Adult attachment style, marriage structure and marital satisfaction.
Recent research into marital satisfaction has highlighted distan.ce regulation as a central source of controversy in couples' relationships ((Byng-Hall, 1991b, 1995; Marvin & Stewart, 1990; Pistole, 1994; Stevenson-Hinde, 1990). Shifts in the spatial arrangements or structural elements of the marital couple may escalate or de-escalate attachment behaviour and partners continually regulate this distance in order not to experience separation anxiety. Albeit differently, structural family, theory (Minuchin, 1974) also emphasizes the spatial arrangements of the couple and how these differentially affect the Viability of the system. In view of the fact that both attachment theory and structural family theory are concerned with the spatial arrangements of the couple, this research proposes to examine the interface between these theories and how they may jointly, rather than separately, inform research into marital satisfaction. Opportunistic sampling of 6 groups was undertaken and self-report questionnaires assessing sociodemographics,.attachment styles, attachment history, marriage structure and marital satisfaction distributed to married couples only. Self-report questionnaires comprised the following assessment instrume,nts: the Close Relationships Questionnaire (Hazan & Shaver, 1987) measuring attachment style (viz. secure, anxious/ambivalent, avoidant); an Adjective Checklist measuring attachment-history variables (Hazan & Shaver, 1987); the Adult Attachment Scale (Collins & Read, 1990) measuring attachment dimensions (viz. Close, Depend, Anxiety); the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Scales (FACES III) (Olson, Portner & Lavee, 1985) measuring-.Qoth marriage structure (viz. the variables cohesion and adaptability) and marital satisfaction; and a 5-item Marital Satisfaction Scale compiled by the researcher. The final sample constituted 82 participants of which 34 were couples and 14 were individuals. The 14 individual respondents comprised 10. wives and 4 husbands. Statistical analyses included Pearson correlation coefficients, a Canonical Discriminant Functions Analysis, one-way analyses of variance (ANOVA's), chi-square /tests of independence and t-tests. Hypotheses examined the relationship between family/couple structure, attachment classifications and marital satisfaction. Relationships between individual attachment classifications and marriage structure (viz. cohesion and adaptability) (FACES III - Olson , et al., 1985) were, for the most part, not supported. The hypothesis investigating the relationship between individual attachment classifications and satisfaction with the marriage was, for the most part, not supported, however, the second part of the hypothesis investigating the relationship between couple attachment classifications and couples' satisfaction with the marriage showed a significant relationship between couple attachment style groupings (viz. secure husband, anxious wife, etc.) and one of the scales measuring couple satisfaction. Some significant relationships were found between individuals' attachment classifications and their recollection of childhood relationships with parents and parents' relationships with one another. In view of the fact that research into this area has only recently been embarked upon, it is concluded that future research using multiple methods of assessment be undertaken in order to more comprehensively establish the merits or otherwise of combining attachment theory and structural family theory in research into marital satisfaction.