Date of Award:

Winter 1-1-2007

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Thorana S. Nelson

Abstract

Marital distress has been shown to negatively affect child outcomes. John Gottman has claimed that he has developed a concept that can buffer children from the negative effects of marital distress. The concept is emotion coachin g (EC), which teaches children about emotions. emotion regulation. and effective problem-solving. Children who are emotion coached have better out comes regardless of level of marital di stress. Gottman also claims that emotion coaching parents report higher marital satisfaction and tend to score higher in positive conflict resolution styles and lower in negative conflict resolution styles. This study set out to test Gottman's concepts of EC and emotion dismissing (ED) and their relationships with marital satisfaction and marital conflict. In addition, this study explored the relationships between marital conflict and marital satisfaction. Lastly, this study set out to use a se lf- report instrument to measure EC and ED, the Maternal Emotional Style Questionnaire (MESQ: Legace-Seguin, 200 I). Unfortunately, the MESQ in this study d id not have adequate reliability to answer the questions of how EC and ED were related to marital satisfaction and marital conflict. However, results were reported for relationships between marital conflict, marital satisfaction. and demographic variables.

Results suggest that when one uses one negative way o f resolving conflict, one is likely to use other negative strategies. Also, when one uses the positive way of resolving conflict, negative strategies are less likely to be used. Resu lts showed that frequency/severity of conflicts were related to the perceived seriousness of arguments and reports of conflicts being resolved. Also. number of times conflicts were resolved was related to decreased perceived seriousness of argument topics. Marital satisfaction was related to higher scores on· positive conflict strategies and conflict efficacy and lower scores of frequency/severity of conflicts and negative conflict strategies. Discussion includes implications for further research and family therapy.

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