Objective ratings of relationship skills across multiple domains as predictors of marital satisfaction trajectories

Erika Lawrence, Ashley Pederson, Mali Bunde, Robin A. Barry, Rebecca L. Brock, Emily Fazio, Lorin Mulryan, Sara Hunt, Lisa Madsen, Sandra Dzankovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Expanding upon social-learning and vulnerability-stress-adaptation approaches to marriage, the impact of multiple dyadic behaviors on marital satisfaction trajectories was examined in 101 couples. Semi-structured interviews were administered separately to husbands and wives at three months of marriage. Interviewers generated objective ratings for five domains: emotional closeness/intimacy, sexual intimacy/sensuality, interspousal support, decision-making/relational control, and communication/conflict management. Marital satisfaction was assessed four times over three years. Dyadic behaviors were associated with initial levels and rates of change in satisfaction, demonstrating the unique contributions of each relational skill on marital development. For husbands, sexual intimacy was the strongest predictor of change whereas for wives, communication/conflict management was the strongest predictor of change compared to other domains. Theoretical, methodological and clinical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-466
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Couples
  • Dyadic skills
  • Growth curve analyses
  • Marital satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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