A situational analysis of the relationship between spouse-specific assertiveness and marital adjustment

  • Robert C. Smolen
  • David A. Spiegel
  • Marianne K. Bakker-Rabdau
  • Cornells B. Bakker
  • Christopher Martin


This study examined the relationship between marital adjustment and spousespecific assertiveness, conceptualized in terms of defense of rights, in a sample of 115 married women, 27 of whom were in a distressed marriage. Subjects indicated their likely behavioral responses in 11 commonly occurring marital conflict situations and provided ratings of the expected effectiveness of their responses, the amount of resentment they would experience in the situations, and the frequency of occurrence of the situations in their marage. Marital adjustment was found to be directly related to response effectiveness and level of assertive responding and inversely related to situational resentment and frequency of transgression by spouse. Surprisingly, the level of assertive responding was less strongly related to marital adjustment than were any of the other principal variables. A multiple regression analysis indicated that the set of experimental variables accounted for 45% of the variance in marital adjustment. All of the principal variables uniquely accounted for significant levels of variance in marital adjustment. Viewed collectively, the results of this study indicate that (1) parameters of marital conflict situations have considerable importance for the marital adjustment of women and (2) explication of the relationship between marital conflict and marital adjustment requires investigation of a variety of behavioral, affective, and contextual variables.

Key words

assertiveness marital adjustment women marital situations interpersonal relationships 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert C. Smolen
    • 1
  • David A. Spiegel
    • 1
  • Marianne K. Bakker-Rabdau
    • 1
  • Cornells B. Bakker
    • 1
  • Christopher Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral MedicineThe University of Illinois College of Medicine at PeoriaPeoria

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