EXERCISE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Research article
Volume 4, No. 1, 2012, 1-10
UDC 316.644-058.83:796.035]:159.9
SPOUSAL APPROVAL OF RECREATION AS AN
INDICATOR OF MARRIAGE QUALITY AND
STABILITY
Jelena äakoti„-Kurbalija and Dragan Kurbalija
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad
School of Agriculture with Dormitory, Futog
Abstract
The aim of the study was to determine if and to what extent equal point of view of
spouses regarding recreation can be seen as a significant indicator of the quality and stability
of marital relationship in our society. For this purpose 436 women, who live in marriage or
non-marital cohabitation, aged 19- 64, were tested. The differences among the tested women
who share the same attitude about recreation with their spouses and those who do not, were
tested by discriminatory analysis regarding the following: different demographic variables,
general satisfaction with the marriage and marital relationship, different aspects of the quality
of the marital relationship, style of affectional bond, marital locus of control, differences in
judgement of personal and spouseís values, presence of stressful events, strategies for
overcoming the stress, stability of the marriage and intention to seek professional
psychological help. Statistically significant discriminatory factor
(rc=0.54; p=
0.00) was
obtained which is interpreted as harmonious in contrast to the conflict prone marital
relationship. The main conclusion of the research is that the spousal approval of recreation
represents a good indicator of general harmony in a marital relationship.
Keywords: recreation, marital relationships, marriage satisfaction, divorce potential
Introduction
Although studies concerning marital satisfaction and factors which influence it started
in the 1930s (Terman et al., 1938), marriage and marital relationships attracted attention of
sociologists and psychologists just after the great social and economic changes had appeared,
in developed countries of the West and in North America, which caused powerful clash of the
individualistic and traditional values, and which started to seriously endanger the creation and
preservation of family.
Corresponding author. Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad, Rodoljuba
»olakovi„a 16, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia, e-mail: jelenas@neobee.net
© 2012 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
J. äakoti-Kurbalija & D. Kurbalija
In the USA, as well as in almost all present day members of European Union, the
number of registered marriages has started to decline continuously since the 1960s, and at the
same time the divorce rate has started to increase (Eurostat, 2010). This is why since 1974
impressive number of scientific research papers regarding marital and family relationships has
been published. More than 15000 articles with the topic of marriage have been registered over
the last 15 years in index base ISI Web of Knowledge.
While majority of these studies focused on determining the factors which influence the
quality of marital relationships, a smaller number of studies was aimed at establishing how
the quality of marital relationship affects spouses and their offspring. Different studies
examined a great number of variables which were considered as potential determinants of
marital stability. Most of these studies were aimed at discovering the possible causes or at
least correlates of divorce, as the final result of marital instability.
Over the past decades in our society the number of registered marriages has fallen, the
quality of marital relationships has decreased, the number of divorces has increased and birth
rate has decreased, which has subsequently caused that the nation itself is getting older.
However, for the last two decades, the attention of our researchers in the field of marital
relationships has been mostly focused on children and teenagers, as the most vulnerable
categories of the population, whereas the older family members were studied mostly in
relation to their parental and/or professional roles.
Psychological studies which deal with marriage stability and quality of marital
relationships are quite rare in our country. Such studies were conducted on clinical population
and they studied the connection between marital dysfunctionality and individual
psychopathology (Dragani„-Gaji„ et al., 2005; Dragiöi„ Labaö, 2008; Mi„anovi„-Cveji„ et al.,
2009; äakoti„ Kurbalija et al., 2010). Even rarer are the studies which deal with psychological
characteristics of marital relationship in non-clinical population, for example like studies
which deal with the characteristics and functionality of marital relationships in families in the
Province of Vojvodina (Mihi„, 2007; Jarmaz, 2010). The results of these studies show certain
unexpected findings: for example the tested parents of adolescents in the Province of
Vojvodina express high general satisfaction with the quality of their marriages (when asked to
give general mark 82.2 % of the people interviewed said that the quality of their marriages
was very good and even excellent), while functionality of their marriages was estimated to be
under average (Mihi„, 2007). In addition to this, it is quite interesting that among the
examined married couples in Vojvodina, there was no sign of the Traditional marriage couple,
even though our society is still considered to be highly traditional (Jarmaz, 2010).
The studies of marital relationships in non-clinical population also indicate that as the
number of years spent in marriage increases, estimated quality of affectional
- sexual
compatibility decreases for male subjects, whereas female subjects express a decline in
marriage satisfaction (measured by DAS scale) and estimated level of cohesion in marriage
(Mihi„, 2007).
Similarly to the results of numerous studies conducted in foreign countries and
cultures, the results of research in our society show that perception of the quality of marital
relationships is generally worse from female point of view comparing to the perception of
their partners, and the differences are significant especially when estimating the partners'
coordination about everyday responsibilities and their emotional-sexual compatibility
(Jarmaz, 2010).
Considering features culturally and historically specific to our country, present day
social and economic crisis as well as absence of psychological studies of connection between
marital stability and quality of marital relationships in non-clinical population in our society,
it is important to determine to what extent it is possible to apply the results of existing studies
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Spousal approval of recreation and marriage quality
and theoretical models of marital functions based on different societies and cultures on our
own society.
Bearing in mind that numerous studies showed that marriage satisfaction diminishes
with the birth of the child, especially according to female perception
(Ade-Rider &
Braubacker, 1983; Chester, 1982; Belsky, Spanier & Rovine, 1983; Belsky, Lang & Rovine,
1985; Belsky & Pensky, 1988), that motherhood has much stronger impact on womenís lives
comparing to the impact paternity has on menís lives (Nomaguchi & Milkie 2003), that the
womenís marriage satisfaction proved to be more important to the marital stability than menís
marriage satisfaction (Heaton & Blake, 1999, Obradovic & Cudina-Obradovic, 2000), that
womenís perception of the quality of marital relationships proved to be the first and the most
important factor which leads to divorce or which helps preventing divorce (Cross & Madson,
1997; Karney & Bradbury, 1995), the main subject of this research was perception of
different aspects of quality of marital relationships and divorce potential for women ñ those
who had child or children of early age and for women from childless marriages.
The aim of this research is to answer the question if, and to what extent, it is possible
to consider the spousal approval regarding recreation as a significant indicator of the quality
and stability of marriage in our society.
Method
In order to determine the significance of spousal approval regarding recreation as an
indicator of quality and stability of marital relationship, and considering the above mentioned
findings and especially the finding that women-mothers show the least marriage satisfaction
while the children are in early childhood, the research was conducted on women who have
child/children up to the age of 7 and the control group consisted of women from childless
marriages, in order to control to some extent the effects of parental roles on marital stability
and perception of the quality of marital relationship.
The sample included 436 women, aged 19-64, who live in registered or non registered
marriage (138 women in childless marriages and 298 had young child/children).
Self-descriptive techniques such as questionnaires and estimating scales were used in
order to record the examined variables. Most of the instruments were taken from earlier
studies, since they showed satisfactory psychometric characteristics so far; one smaller
segment of research battery was constructed especially for this research.
Discriminatory variable in this research is the estimate given by the women about
spousal approval regarding recreation.
The differences between the group of women who share the same attitude towards
recreation with their spouses and the group of women who do not were determined by the
following sets of variables:
1. Socio-demographic variables (age, age difference between spouses, education,
difference regarding educational level between spouses, total monthly income of
the household, relationship length, cohabitation length, marriage length, number
of children, the oldest and the youngest child)
2. Marital satisfaction (general evaluation of marital satisfaction was determined on
a 7-grade scale, and the answers were from 1- very dissatisfied to
7- very
satisfied)
3
J. äakoti-Kurbalija & D. Kurbalija
3.
Quality of marital relationship was examined Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS-7,
Spanier, 1976), which consists of 4 subscales:
"consensus" (spousesí agreement about issues which are important for every
day functioning);
"marriage satisfaction" (spousal trust, frequency of conflicts, degree of tension,
impression of mutual intolerance and personal attitude towards the future of
the marriage);
"affectional-sexual compatibility"
(degree of compatibility of spouses
regarding expressing emotions and sexual relationship); and
"cohesion"
(degree of closeness and quality of communication between
partners).
4.
Divorce potential (Booth, Johnson and Edwards, 1983).
5.
Intention to seek professional psychological help
(the instrument designed for the
purpose of this research includes experience from the past and present and
intention to seek professional psychological help in the future as well as the
reasons why the examined women have or do not have intention to seek
professional psychological help.)
6.
Style of affectional bond between partners was examined by using a shortened
version of Experiences in Close Relationships Inventory (Brennan, Clark and
Shaver, 1998)
7.
Marital locus of control (impression of effectiveness in resolving marital conflicts)
8.
Marital locus of control was examined by applying ìPerceived efficacy in solving
intimate conflict scaleî (Fincham and Bradbury, 1987).
9.
Differences in estimating personal and partnerís values
(the Mate Value
Inventory, Kirsner, Figueredo and Jacobs, 2003).
10. Presence of stressful events
11. Presence of stressful events was examined by using a modified and shortened
version of SLE scale (Survey of Life Events, Bradbury, 1990)
12. Strategies for overcoming stress (Brief COPE Scale, Carver, 1997).
13. The differences between the women who share the same attitude towards
recreation with their spouses and those who do not were examined by
discriminatory analysis in relation to all above mentioned variables.
Results
Although the differences between the women who have children and the women who
do not have children, on the level of the groups, were statistically significant, they did not
prove to be reliable indicators of marital stability and quality of marital relationships.
Therefore the research presents only statistic analysis which comprised the whole sample of
women (436) and it did not include the results of the analyses conducted on the sub samples,
in order to avoid redundancy.
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Spousal approval of recreation and marriage quality
The statistically significant discriminatory factor was obtained, which explains the
differences in characteristics of marital relationships between the women who share the same
attitude towards recreation with their spouses and those who do not.
Table 1 shows the most important results of this discriminatory analysis.
Table 1
Results of discriminatory analysis
Cumulative
p
Î
% variances
rc
Wilksís Î
˜2
df
% variance
.419(a)
100.0
100.0
.544
.704
145.020
40
.000
Î ñ typical root of discriminatory factor ; % variance ñ variance percentage explained by discriminatory factor; rc
ñ coefficient of canonical correlation; Wilksís Î ñ measure of differences of centroid groups; ˜2- test for
significance of Wilksís Î; df ñ number of degrees of freedom; p ñ level of significance of discriminatory
function.
Table 2 shows variables for which the correlation with isolated discriminatory factor
was estimated to be higher than r = 0,2.
Table 2
Extract from the matrix of structure of discriminatory factor
Variable
Correlation
DAS Consensus
.790
DAS Cohesion
.506
DAS Marriage satisfaction
.474
Subjective estimate of marriage satisfaction
.467
Efficiency in resolving marital conflicts
.321
DAS Affectional -sexual compatibility
.315
Impression of womanís superiority
-.285
ECR Avoiding
-.259
total monthly income of household
.228
Sum of negative stress
-.226
Divorce potential
-.217
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J. äakoti-Kurbalija & D. Kurbalija
As it can be seen from the table 2, bipolar discriminatory dimension was obtained
whose positive pole determines general good relationship between the partners, and also high
cohesion of the couple, stronger marriage satisfaction (measured both with the subjective
estimate and objective criteria), efficiency in resolving marital conflicts, more noticeable
affectionate expressiveness between spouses and a little higher total monthly income of the
household.
On the other hand, negative pole of the discriminatory factor is determined, first of all,
by the impression of the women of their higher importance comparing to their partners, then
on the basis of the absence of affectional bond, larger number of total negative stressful
events and higher divorce potential.
Based on its structure, discriminatory dimension can be either harmonious or conflict-
prone marital relationship.
As it can be seen from Figure 1, the examined women who share the same attitude
towards recreation with their spouses on average have higher results according to the
discriminatory factor comparing to the women who do not share the same attitude about
recreation with their spouses. In other words, women who share the same attitude towards
recreation with their spouses show harmonious marital relationship, whereas women who do
not share the attitude show more conflict-prone marital relationship.
Figure 1 Distribution of women tested based on discriminatory factor
Centroids of the groups are -0,789 for the group of women who do not share the same
attitude towar[]ds recreation with their spouses and 0,529 for the group of women who do.
Table 3 shows indicators of classification of the women based on the results of the
discriminatory analysis, where it is clear that 75,5% of the women were classified correctly.
6
Spousal approval of recreation and marriage quality
Table 3
Results of the classification of the women tested based on discriminatory factor
Attitudes
Estimated group affiliation
towards
recreation
Disagree
Agree
Sum
Original
frequency Disagree
129
46
175
Agree
61
200
261
%
Disagree
73.7
26.3
100.0
Agree
23.4
76.6
100.0
Discussion
It must not be forgotten that the research which is shown in this work is a correlation
research and that the results obtained show only connection among the examined variables,
and they do not show their cause-effect relationship.
It is a certainly significant result that the spousal approval of recreation is in high
correlation with the general degree of good relationship between the spouses and mutual
agreement concerning questions which are of high importance for everyday functioning, such
as relationship with parents and relatives, relationship with friends, attitude to religion,
amount of time spent together, making mutual decisions, keeping the households finances,
house chores, interests and leisure activities, beliefs, aims and accomplishments etc.; and the
degree of the spousal approval of recreation can be considered as a good indicator of their
general agreement.
Bearing in mind the finding that different spousal attitudes to recreation are connected
to womanís feeling of being superior, her incapability to achieve closeness with her partner,
higher number of negative stressful events and higher divorce potential, we can assume that
there is a circular cause and effect relationship among these variables. Different attitudes of
the spouses towards the recreation are probably at the same time cause and effect of the
conflict-prone marital relationship. Inconsistent attitudes of spouses regarding the recreation
certainly cannot lead to their close relationship, but on the contrary, to their drifting apart. In
the same way, since the marital stability is a dynamic process, we can assume that the change
from similar to different attitudes toward recreation represents a signal of the beginning of
mutual drifting apart and, if those different attitudes continue to exist, the difference leads to
further drifting apart, that is to higher divorce potential.
The main conclusion of the research is that the spousal approval of recreation
represents a good indicator of general harmony in marital relationships.
One should not forget the fact that this research examined only mutual approval of the
spouses regarding recreation and that the research did not gather data about whether their
mutual attitude towards recreation is positive or negative, nor about how much time the
7
J. äakoti-Kurbalija & D. Kurbalija
partners spent on recreation per week. In subsequent studies it would be important to gather
this kind of data and to examine contribution of recreation to the quality of marital
relationships. In addition to examining how women balance various roles ñ professional,
parental and marital roles, it is important to determine how much recreation can help them in
efficient balancing these roles and in prevention of the syndrome of burning down.
From the point of view of utilitarian moral, which is characteristic of ìmodernî
individualistic system of values more and more present in our society, marriage union should
provide partners and their children with the sense of happiness and joy, if it is functional /
right one; long term dissatisfaction and frustration are considered to be clear indicators of
wrong, dysfunctional marital relationship. In this sense satisfactory ñ stabile marital
relationship is the only desirable and healthy option (marital relationship of lower divorce
potential and general marriage satisfaction followed by perception of high quality marriage,
according to all parameters).
However, the problem is that many people who seek satisfactory ñ stabile marital
relationship and who aspire to it forget that marriage cannot exist without conflicts, various
problems within and outside the family
(sometimes smaller and sometimes bigger),
uncertainty, personal frustrations and all other sorts of unpleasant feelings. That is why it is
important for partners to learn how to overcome conflicts in a constructive manner, instead of
ignoring or avoiding them.
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Submitted April 5, 2012
Accepted June 15, 2012
Authors Note
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J. äakoti-Kurbalija & D. Kurbalija
Research shown in this work represents a part of the project "The Effects of
Existential Insecurity on an Individual and on the Family in Serbia", which is financed by the
Ministry of Education and Science of Republic of Serbia (DN 179022).
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