Handbook of Interpersonal Commitment and Relationship Stability

Part of the series Perspectives on Individual Differences pp 407-424

Communication Processes in Marital Commitment

An Integrative Approach
  • Deborah S. Ballard-ReischAffiliated withDepartment of Health Ecology, University of Nevada
  • , Daniel J. WeigelAffiliated withUniversity of Nevada Cooperative Extension

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Models of commitment and marital quality have traditionally focused on outcomes (measures of marital commitment, stability, and satisfaction) rather than the process (interaction dynamics) that leads to the achievement of marital stability. The purpose of this chapter is to present a model of marital commitment grounded in communication. In the model (the interaction model of marital commitment), we suggest that couples negotiate relationship roles, power currencies, and marital climate through interaction with one another. Additionally, we contend that couples’ satisfaction with the outcomes of these negotiations leads to their individual perspectives on the relationship which, in turn, impact their level of commitment to the marriage. Based upon their commitment to the relationship, spouses communicate either to maintain desired roles, power currencies, and the marital climate, or to change aspects of these outcomes with which they are dissatisfied. This leads to a continuous process of interaction, outcome, evaluation, reassessment of commitment, marital maintenance/change decisions, interaction, and so on.