Intercultural couples’ internal stress, relationship satisfaction, and dyadic coping

Jenny Holzapfel, Ashley Randall, Chun Tao, Masumi Iida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Intercultural couples-partners from two different countries-may face increased levels of stress within their relationship (internal stress). Although internal stress is negatively associated with relationship satisfaction, communication of such stress can help foster partners’ coping behaviors. Specifically, partners can engage in positive dyadic coping (DC) to help lower stress levels and improve relationship satisfaction. Despite the wealth of research on DC, examination of the associations of stress communication and DC in intercultural couples has been limited. To address this gap in the literature, this study used a sample of 73 self-identified heterosexual intercultural couples to examine their perceptions of internal stress, and associations between DC and relationship satisfaction. Cross-sectional survey data revealed negative main effects for both individuals’ own and their partner’s perceptions of internal stress on relationship satisfaction, and positive main effects for all forms of positive DC with relationship satisfaction. Stress communication by oneself moderated the association between partner’s perceived internal stress and one’s own relationship satisfaction, such that relationship satisfaction was higher when partners reported more engagement in stress communication at lower levels of internal stress. However, there were no significant main association between negative DC and relationship satisfaction, or significant moderations for any type of DC. Implications for relationship researchers and mental health professionals working with intercultural couples are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-163
Number of pages19
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018


  • Dyadic coping
  • Intercultural couples
  • Internal stress
  • Relationship satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology


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