The relationship of adult attachment style and interactive conflict styles to marital satisfaction



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This study examined the association between individual attachment and interactive conflict styles and the overall influence on marital satisfaction in 207 married individuals. The application of attachment theory to this study of adult romantic relationships was established via factor analysis and yielded two dimensions: self (anxiety) and other (avoidance). Accommodation and demand-withdraw were the two forms of conflict interaction studied, which, respectively, are constructive and destructive styles of engagement that impact marital satisfaction. Individuals completed self-report measures of attachment, accommodation, demand-withdraw and global marital satisfaction. The current study yielded statistically significant results and supported all of the research hypotheses. There were negative relationships found between the attachment dimensions of anxiety and avoidance and total accommodation, while positive relationships were determined between both attachment dimensions and demand-withdraw behaviors. In relationship to marital satisfaction, an individual's total accommodation was positively related, while demand-withdraw behaviors were inversely associated. There were also inverse relationships found between both the attachment dimensions and marital satisfaction. These findings suggest that the data are consistent with previous research on attachment, accommodation, demand-withdraw behavior and marital satisfaction. In addition to supporting prior findings, this study also had several unique contributions. A statistically significant relationship was found between the constructive and destructive conflict styles, which suggested total accommodation was associated with lower levels of demand-withdraw. In addition, a path model for the variables of attachment, accommodation, demand-withdraw and marital satisfaction was developed. This display of variables is especially useful in showing the bidirectionality of constructive and destructive behaviors in marriage. Research implications for these findings are presented and suggestions for future research are discussed.