Liang-Jei Lee

Date of Graduation


Document Type



This study examined some plausible factors that were expected to contribute to marital coping behaviors when married couples face marital conflict situations. Self-report measures of personality trait, marital coping behavior, appraisal of marital conflict, marital relationship, and social support were administered to a sample of 197 married community residents ranging in age from 23 to 82 years old. Avoidance, conflict, positive approach, self-blame, self-interest, and seeking social support were the specific marital coping styles examined in this study. A planned confirmatory examination of internal consistency of self-report marital coping measure (the Marital Coping Inventory) revealed that this measure was adequately reliable and homogeneous across the three age groups. Overall, the results revealed that connections between marital coping behaviors and expected variables varied by modes of coping examined. Based upon univariate analyses on the obtained demographic data, significant sex differences were found in the use of conflict, self-blame, self-interest, and seeking social support marital coping strategies. Women are more likely to use these four marital coping styles than men. After controlling for factors that significantly related to individual marital coping behavior, multivariate analyses showed that marital strain plays an important and direct role in relation to four marital coping strategies. Age was found to play the only, and direct role in contributing to the other two marital coping strategies. Persons with satisfactory marital relations are more likely to use more positive approach and less avoidance, conflict, and self-blame marital coping behaviors. Old people tended to use more self-interest and less seeking social support marital coping strategies than young people. Personality traits also were found to be directly related to three negative marital coping behaviors. Persons low on mastery, self-esteem, or optimism use more ineffective marital coping strategies involving avoidance, conflict, and self-blame. Exploratory path analyses were employed to explore the process-oriented nature of marital coping behaviors. A primary finding of the analyses was that marital conflict appraisal (including appraised controllability and appraised stressfulness of marital conflict situations) and social support (including social support satisfaction and social support availability) were found to be indirectly associated with marital coping behaviors through their associations with marital strain or personality traits. The implications of these conclusions for clinical practice, the limitations of the study, and issues of future research are discussed.