Date of Award:

2003

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Thomas R. Lee

Abstract

A self-selected sample of232 newlywed husbands and wives in Utah was surveyed to assess marital satisfaction, marital adjustment, and problematic areas during the first few months of marriage. The study utilized the Kansas Marital Satisfaction Scale (KMSS) and the Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale (RDAS), in addition to a list of30 potential problematic areas created by Creighton University to measure these constructs.

Although the majority of the newlyweds in this sample were fairly satisfied and well adjusted, II% of both husbands and wives scored in the distressed range on the RDAS, signaling that the first few months of marriage can be a time of tension and strain for some couples.

Many demographic and interactional history variables were tested as to how well they predict marital satisfaction and marital adjustment among newlywed husbands and wives, and only husbands' religiosity and whether a child was brought into the marriage were significant predictors of both husbands' and wives' marital satisfaction and marital adjustment scores. The most problematic areas for both husbands and wives were balancing employment and marriage and the presence of debt brought into marriage.

When regression analyses were carried out that included demographics and problematic areas, a high degree of religiosity among husbands and wives was the strongest and most consistent predictor of marital satisfaction and marital adjustment. However, it was the problematic areas in the relationship that accounted for the majority of the variance in marital satisfaction and marital adjustment scores, rather than the demographic variables alone. Thus, it appears that the demographic variables affect the likelihood that various marital problems would arise, which, in tum, increased the likelihood of lower marital satisfaction and marital adjustment among both husbands and wives.

These findings suggest that educators and others helping engaged couples and newlyweds should focus more on the problematic areas that often arise in marriage, which are noted in this study, rather than the demographic and interactional characteristics couples bring to the marriage. Moreover, it is suggested that marriage education strategies be centered on engaged and newlywed couples to assist them in adjusting to the new roles and expectations they encounter.

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