Exploration of a Marital Typology: Implications for Marital Functioning in a Multi-Ethnic Sample

Kristin M. Lindahl, Neena M. Malik, Sara Wigderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marital conflict is associated with multiple negative outcomes for couples, including marital dissatisfaction and divorce. Little research, however, has examined conflict in Hispanic/Latino couples or its association with marital satisfaction, which creates an unfortunate knowledge gap for clinicians working with diverse client groups. The present study sought to examine both marital conflict and satisfaction using a sample of 231 European American (EA; n = 108) and Hispanic/Latino (H/L; n = 123) couples. Through observational coding, couples were placed into four groups based on their type of conflict management strategies: Harmonious, Withdrawn, Conflictual-Expressive, or Conflictual-Hostile. For both ethnic groups, couples in the Harmonious group were nondistressed and couples in the Conflictual-Hostile group were in the distressed range of marital satisfaction. Cross-ethnic differences emerged. EA couples experienced distress when both hostile (Conflictual-Hostile) and nonhostile conflict (Conflictual-Expressive) communication types were observed, while only hostile conflict was associated with distress for the H/L group. H/L couples reported similar levels of satisfaction in both the Harmonious and Conflictual-Expressive groups. H/L couples also fell within the distressed range when withdrawn communication patterns were observed; however, this was not the case for EA couples. These differences suggest that both types of conflict are associated with marital distress for EA couples, whereas hostile conflict and withdrawn behavior appear to be more negatively associated with marital satisfaction in H/L couples. Results provide support for the use of an observational coding system with H/L and EA couples and also suggest the importance of understanding how differences in expressions of conflict across ethnicities may relate to marital satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1319-1333
Number of pages15
JournalFamily Process
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Conflict
  • Couples
  • Ethnicity
  • Marital Satisfaction
  • Typology
  • conflicto
  • etnia
  • parejas
  • satisfacción conyugal
  • tipología
  • 伴侣
  • 冲突
  • 婚姻满意度
  • 种族
  • 类型学

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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