Understanding Marital Satisfaction and Couple Type as Functions of Relational Expectations

Douglas Kelley, JUDEE K. BURGOON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The present study examined the role played by relational expectations in determining marital satisfaction and in discriminating between married couple types. The discrepancy between one's expectations for his or her spouse's relational behavior and one's perceptions of his or her spouse's actual behavior significantly predicted marital satisfaction. Discrepancy scores for the relational dimensions of intimacy, distance, equality/ trust, dominance, and noncomposure/arousal appear to be most central in predicting satisfaction. While agreement between spouses on relational expectations significantly predicted satisfaction, expectation/perception discrepancies were revealed to be stronger predictors than agreement scores. There were no differences in relational expectations when compared across couple type; however, intimacy and noncomposure/arousal displayed significant differences when compared across wives’ individual marital type. Overall, intimacy, noncomposure/arousal, and equality/trust played central roles in understanding marital satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-69
Number of pages30
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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