Fireproof: Using Communication Theory to Examine Marital Satisfaction within the First Five Years of Marriage

by Karla Swenson
Communication Studies
Faculty advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Lamoureux

The divorce rate in the United States is currently 3.5 percent for every 1,000 people (National Vital Statistics Reports, 2008). It is inevitable that every marriage will have conflict, but it is the way the conflicts are handled that affects a couple’s marital satisfaction. “The notion that you can save your marriage just by learning to communicate more sensitively is probably the most widely held misconception about happy marriages. Perhaps the most surprising truth about marriage is that most marital arguments cannot be resolved due to couples simply having different conflict styles” (Gottman, 1999).  Although conflict is one contributing factor to marital satisfaction, there are many others. Integrating the following communication theories: Baxter & Montgomery’s Relational Dialectics Theory, Thibaut and Kelly’s Social Exchange Theory, and Mead’s Symbolic Interactionism Theory, this study will examine the contributing factors to marital satisfaction.