Dr. Erika Lawrence
Participation year
Project title

Do Conflict Recovery Skills Buffer the Effects of Marital Conflict on Marital Satisfaction?

Almost half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Marital discord and dissolution have been shown to have a negative impact on the emotional and physical well-being of spouses and their children. There is a wealth of evidence documenting the negative effects of poor conflict management skills (also known as poor problem solving skills) on marital satisfaction and existing prevention programs target problem solving skills almost exclusively. However, such efforts are only moderately effective at preventing marital distress and divorce. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether couples' recovery behaviors after an argument ("conflict recovery skills") buffered the impact of poor problem solving skills on marital satisfaction. In the first 6 months of marriage, husbands and wives (N=103 couples) completed self-report measures of (a) problem solving skills used during their disagreements, (b) marital satisfaction, and (c) two types of conflict recovery skills (length of time toward recovery and the extent to which the couple was able to return to pre-argument functioning). Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine whether the interaction term (conflict skills x conflict recovery skills) predicted marital satisfaction over and above the main effects of conflict skills and conflict recovery skills. Husbands' and wives' variables were analyzed simultaneously to control for interdependence among spouses. Conflict recovery skills significantly predicted marital satisfaction (t = 2.19, p < .05 and t = 3.87, p < .01, respectively).
Rosaura  Orengo
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras