Marital satisfaction and attitudes toward love and sex in Mexican-American couples: a cross-cultural perspective



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Texas Tech University


The Hispanic population is the second largest minority in the United States. The Mexican-American, a subgroup of this population, has been traditionally described as having a strong family orientation. Interestingly, many of the assumptions about the family have been based on myths and stereotypes. In spite of various attempts to empirically research this group of people, an area that has been neglected has been the area of attitudes about love and sexuality and their relation to satisfaction in marriage. This study explored the relationship among these variables in order to better understand Mexican-American close relationships in relation to themselves and to Anglos.

A sample of 186 participants (54 Mexican-American and 32 Anglo married couples, plus 14 individuals) was administered a questionnaire containing several demographic items, the Love Attitudes Scale, the Sexual Attitudes Scale, the Dyadic Adjustment Scale, and the Relationship Assessment Scale. In addition, the Mexican-American participants completed the Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican-Americans (ARSMA). A median split based on the ARSMA was performed to divide the Mexican-American sample into high- and low-acculturation groups. Various analyses were performed for the three ethnic groups to assess differences/similarities. Men were found to be more ludic (game-playing) than females, regardless of ethnicity. Low-acculturation Mexican-American females emerged as more pragmatic (practical) than any other group. Men were found to be more agapic (altruistic) than were females. Regarding sex attitudes, men were more permissive about sexuality. Eros (passionate love) correlated highly with marital satisfaction for all ethnic groups. Ludus and Instrumentality (self-centered sexuality) correlated negatively with marital satisfaction but only for the high-acculturation group. Comparisons were made between couples married 1-10 years and 10 or more years. No significant differences were found as measured by the satisfaction scales. Findings were explained in relation to existing research with Anglos and general knowledge about the Mexican-American culture. Directions for future research are suggested.