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Int. j. econ. manag. soc. sci., Vol(4), No (3), March, 2015. pp.


TI Journals

International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences


Copyright 2015. All rights reserved for TI Journals.

Relationship between Couples Communication Patterns and Marital

Farid Abbasi *
MA clinical psychology, Medical Science University of Kermanshah, Office of Student Services, Iran.

Karim afsharinia
Psychology group, literature and human sciences college, Islamic Azad University of Kermanshah, Iran.
*Corresponding author:



Couple's communication patterns

Mutual constructive communication
Mutual avoidance communication
Demand /withdraw marital satisfaction

This study examines the relationship between three patterns of mutual constructive communication,
demand/withdraw and mutual avoidance deals with marital satisfaction. For this purpose, a sample of 30
couples was selected randomly from student couples of Kermanshah University. To gather relevant
information from the two questionnaires: communication patterns (CPQ) and marriage satisfaction
questionnaire (ENRICH) were used. Both tools have high reliability and validity. Questionnaires completed
by both spouses. Pearson's correlation coefficient was used to analyze the data while the data were analyzed
by SPSS software. The results showed that the highest correlation between mutual constructive relationship
and marital satisfaction in women. In this group, the communication pattern of demand / withdraw didnt
show any relation with marital satisfaction and a negative correlation was obtained between marital
satisfaction and mutual avoidance communication. Men and women groups had similar results. In this group,
the highest correlation had seen between the mutual constructive communication and marital satisfaction.
There was a relation near to zero between demands/ withdraw pattern and marital satisfaction and finally a
negative communication was obtained between mutual avoidance pattern and marital satisfaction.

Family is considered as one of main basis of a society. A healthy society is required the family health and reaching a healthy family depends
upon the mental health of people and having desired relationship between them. In spite of positive outcomes of mate selection, unfortunately
most spouses have problems to make and preserve close communication. The marital communication is a process that couple can interact to their
thoughts and feelings as verbal and non-verbal form. Considering the couple's communication patterns can provide valuable information to
counselors and therapists in working with couples (Cauchlin, 2006). Failure to communicating is the most common problems that can be
expressed by unhappy spouses. Poor communication and interaction which couples are involved in it can be lead to the increasing verbal and
physical aggression during the first years of marriage (Markman & Hahlweg 1993). Gotman (1993) divided the couples in two categories based
on their communication patterns as: stable couples and unstable couples. The stable couples include traditional couples, androgynous couples
and avoidant couples.
In traditional Couple, male and female roles are quite distinct and family goals are preferred over individual goals. These couple lives in a shared
place and with a regular and routine schedule. They express moderate level of negative and positive emotions and prevent to make a conflict
except in very important problems. They will listen to each other and after a conflict, they try to convince and content the other party (Fatehi
Zadeh & Ahmadi 2005). androgynous couples dont divide rigid roles for men and women, but both are played both roles at the appropriate
time. They are preferred individual goals over family goals and without regular and predetermined life schedule. They express high levels of
positive and negative emotions by themselves and prefer to solve problems and discuss negotiations in long times (Gotman quoted by Firoz
Bakht, 1997). Avoidant couples are compatible with traditional gender roles for men and women. Men and women have distinct roles. They have
enjoyed life skills to resolve conflicts and if a conflict is appeared, each of them express their own idea and dont try to convince the other party
and reach to common understanding.They did not discuss the emotional and affective (Gotman, 1993).
Unstable couples include discordant couples and free and independent couples. Discordant couples dont endeavor a constructive effort to solve
their conflict. The couple's relationship is accompanied to the permanent criticism, blame, mind reading and defensive mood, high negative and
low positive emotions. their interaction patterns contain withdrew - withdraw (Fatehi Zadeh & Ahmadi 2005).Gotmn (1993) found that in all
three pattern of consistent couples, the ratio of positive and negative interactions and feelings is five to one during conflict resolution. But this
proportion is rather one to one in both patterns of unstable couples. So, both stable and unstable marital relationships are followed a certain
behavioral patterns. In another study, Stewart (1996) quoted from Gotman,(1993) identify the incompatible communicative interactions in
marital conflict. He identifies some challenging interactions patterns between couples.
Compulsory exchanges: in this exchange, one of the couples receives a negative reinforcement in response to positive reinforcement which is
received by the opposite side. For example, man critics his wife to take an advantage from her and to reach his purpose and he will continue so
that his wife left the discussion and let him to be winner in the same discussion. In this exchanges, man will achieve a reward to reach his
purpose (positive reinforcement), and wife will reach to a reinforcement (negative reinforcement) due to this fact that husband leave his critic
and misbehavior. But positive and negative reinforcement by both parties will increase the likelihood of repeating this pattern in future.
Withdraw: This exchange is only negative reinforcement. When the couple conflict is so irritating, one of them or both withdraw away it because
leaving the conflict and discussion (negative reinforcement) is rewarding. Obviously, this style is not lead to problem solving and couples
terminate their negative exchanges while they are irritated. The results of several studies suggest that there is relationship between patterns of
couple communication and marital satisfaction. Some believe that the relationship between marital communication patterns and marital
satisfaction may be depend to ideas the couples views about marriage that is expressed as above classification form. For example Noller and
Fitzpatrick (1999) suggest that marital satisfaction for those couples who emphasis on mutual reliance and closeness are correlated with high
levels of sharing information, while marriage satisfaction for those couples who insist on independence and avoidance are correlated with the
avoidance of conflict in positive form.Afshary Nia (2006) also found that correction of destructive communication patterns can be added to
couples marital satisfaction. This study examines the relationship between couples communication patterns and marital satisfaction. In this

Farid Abbasi *, Karim Afsharinia


International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences Vol(4), No (3), March, 2015.

regard, the main purpose is to determine the relationship between mutual constructive communication patterns and marital satisfaction, the
relationship between demand/withdraw communication patterns and marital satisfaction and also to determine the mutual avoidance
communication patterns and marital satisfaction.

This study is one of the correlation researches.

Society, sample and sampling

The statistical society includes all married students of Islamic Azad University, Kermanshah. The statistical sample is 30 couples who were
selected by random sampling. The sample size is 60.

Research Tools
Measurement tools were used in this research to measure variables and data collecting are: Communication Patterns Questionnaire (CPQ) and
marital questionnaire ENRICH.
Communication Patterns Questionnaire (CPQ)
The questionnaire was developed by Christense & Salavy at the California University in 1984 and it had 35 questions. The questions were
ranked in 9 items of Lickert scale from 1(impossible) to 9 (very possible) and couple behaviors were investigated during three stages of marriage
conflict. These three stages are when a problem is occurred in marital relationship, during their discussion about problem and after discussion
about the problem of communication. Also it has three scales: the scale of mutual constructive communication, mutual avoidance
communication, demand / withdraw communication scale. Demand / withdraw communication composed of two parts: the expected man /
avoidant woman and expected women / avoidant men.
Christense & Shenk (1991) distinguish the reliability of three sub scale of this questionnaire. In this study, three groups of couples as nondistressed, distressed and in divorcing /divorced couples were compared. The subscale of mutual constructive communication could be
diagnosed between three groups. while mutual avoidance and demand / withdraw subscales could be diagnosed only between the distressed and
non-distressed couples (Rasooli, 2001). the results of Christense &Hui (1990) and Hui et al (1993) on American subjects was similar to the
Batman et al (1998) study about the Swiss and German subjects. Cronbach's alpha obtained of these researchers studies were reported on a 5
scales of communication pattern questionnaire (CPQ) from 44/0 to 85/0 that represent the satisfactory results. Moreover the final results of
Batman et all (1996) were satisfactory on subjects. Cronbach's alpha obtained of these researchers studies were reported on the CPQ scale of
mutual constructive communication between 74/0 to 78/0 with the satisfactory results (Ebdat Poor, 2000). In Iran, Ebdat Poor (1379) was
normalized the above questionnaire and evaluated the validity of it by calculation of the correlation between measures of this questionnaire and
marital satisfaction.the correlation coefficient of three subscales: mutual constructive communication, mutual avoidant communication and
demand / withdraw communication were obtained as 0.58,-0.58 and -0.35 respectively, all of which were at the significant alpha level 0.01. To
determine reliability, the internal consistency of the subscales of this questionnaire was calculated, and the values obtained are: mutual
constructive 0.50, mutual avoidance 0.51, expected man / avoidant woman 0.53 and expected women / avoidant men 0.55 (Ebadat Poor, 2000).
Marital Satisfaction Questionnaire (ENRICH)
This questionnaire was used to assess the marital satisfaction. The main form of this questionnaire contains 115 questions and 12 scales. Olson
(1989) used this questionnaire to investigate the marital satisfaction and believed each subjects of it are related to one of main settings. The
investigation of these settings inside a marital relation can express the potential problems of couples or it can determine a strong and powerful
setting. Olson et al reported the validity of this questionnaire as alpha coefficient 0.92. The original form of the questionnaire will cause
excessive fatigue of participants because of multiplicity of questions. So Soleimanian (1994) provided a short form of the questionnaire in a
study entitled "Evaluation of irrational thinking on marital satisfaction" that contains 47 questions. The questions are as 5 options (strongly
agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, and strongly disagree). Each option awarded a rate from 1 to 5. A minimum score is 47 and
maximum 235 (Ebadat Poor, 2000). The questionnaire contains explanations for the subjects that form the beginning of page about the
confidentiality of the information and how to respond to the questions. The calculated scales of form was t scale in which a mean of 50 and SD
10. The short form of questionnaire was used in this study. Soleimanian (1994) reported the reliability of the short form by calculating the
coefficient alpha 0.95.

The findings presented in two descriptive sections and the results of the questions. Descriptive findings include mean and standard deviation in
test scores between men and women communication patterns and marital satisfaction test. These results are shown in Tables 1 and 2.
Tables 3 and 4 have shown the correlation coefficient between subscales of communication pattern test and marital satisfaction between men and

Table 1. Mean and standard deviation of women scores on the subscales of communication patterns and marital satisfaction test
standard deviation



Index scale
Marital satisfaction
Mutual constructive
Demand/ withdraw
Mutual avoidant


Relationship between Couples Communication Patterns and Marital Satisfaction

International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences Vol(4), No (3), March, 2015.

Table 2. Mean and standard deviation of men scores on the subscales of communication patterns and marital satisfaction test
Standard deviation



Index scale
Marital satisfaction
Mutual constructive
Demand/ withdraw
Mutual avoidant

Table 3. The relationship between marital satisfaction and subscales of communication patterns in women

Correlation coefficient


Index scale
Mutual constructive
Demand/ withdraw
Mutual avoidant

Table 4. The relationship between marital satisfaction and subscales of communication patterns in men

Correlation coefficient


Index scale
Mutual constructive
Demand/ withdraw
Mutual avoidant

The results of the above tables can be shown the highest correlation between mutual constructive communication and marital satisfaction in
women. It means if the communication pattern is mutual constructive communication, the marital satisfaction will be increased (r=0.26).
Demand/ withdraw communication didnt show the marital satisfaction(r=0.015). The correlation coefficient is closer to zero and has shown any
relationship between demand/ avoidance communication pattern and marital satisfaction in women. A negative correlation is obtained between
marital satisfaction and mutual avoidant relations and this represents the increasing mutual avoidant communication will decrease the marital
satisfaction in women. Table 3 has shown the correlation analysis between related variables in men group. These results are quite similar to
women. The highest correlation was between mutual constructive communication and marital satisfaction (r=0.20). The correlation between the
relationship of demand / withdraw and marital satisfaction was close to zero (0.50) and the relationship of mutual avoidance and marital
satisfaction was negative (r=-0.027). Thus mutual constructive relationship was shown most correlation with marital satisfaction in men and
women. Demand / withdraw relationship was not significant with marital satisfaction and there was negative correlation between mutual
avoidance communication and marital satisfaction.

This study showed that there is a correlation between communication patterns and marital satisfaction. So, it can be concluded that marital
satisfaction will increase by improving the communication style of couples and in other hand, the couple have more satisfaction and calmness in
their life and may use more healthier communication styles in their life. Thus, the relationship between two variables is bilateral, possibly by
increasing one, another will increase. The findings of this study are consistent with similar findings in this field. Kerchler (1989) in his study
found that happy couples spend together an average of seven hours per day, while the unhappy couples are five hours a day (quoting Fatehi
Zadeh and Ahmadi 2005). Moreover the happy couple spent more time to speak together about personal issues than unhappy couples. Gotman
(1993) showed the nonverbal than verbal behavior can divide the helpless couples compared with non-helpless ones. Also, the helpless couples
have more tendencies to express mutual negative emotions than non- helpless couples. Noler &Fitzpatrick(1999) discussed the role of couple
precision to codify and decode the messages are exchanged between them and they divided happy and unhappy couples and found : the helpless
couples have lower precision to decoding the non-verbal messages of their wife/husband than the strangers. This lack of precision in switching
nonverbal messages can be seen more in men than in women. The increasing negative emotions in couple interaction may be interfere the
husband ability to decode his wife messages. In unsuccessful marriages, men and women dont aware that they dont undrestand each
other.Noler & Fitzpatrick(1990) believe the marital satisfaction is correlated to the information sharing in higher level based on the reliance to
closeness and reliance.While in couples who focus on the independence and avoidance, the marital satisfaction has positive correlation to the
conflict avoidance (quoted from Rasouli, 1991).
Much evidence suggests that the relationship between the demand / withdraw, means a model where one spouse refuses to talk or complaining
and blaming the other, is consistent with the lack of marital satisfaction (Christensen and Hui, 1990; Fogarty, 1976 ; Yakobesno Margolin, 1979;
Noler, Fenni, Bunnell and Callan, 1994, quoted from Fatehi Zadeh and Ahmadi, 1995). But the relationship between these patterns and marital
satisfaction is not specific enough in the long term. Some studies have suggested that this pattern is expected to be predictors of lower marital
satisfaction and divorces (Levinson & Guttmann, 2000 quoted Rasouli 1991) especially when there is expected woman and avoidant men (Hui,
Christensen and Malamas, 1995, quoted Rasouli 1991). Some researches proved when women are involved a relationship that themselves are
avoidant and their husbands are expected men, their marital satisfaction will increase( Gotman 1989. Hui et all 1995).Also the evidences have
shown a model of expected man/avoidant woman is related to marital satisfaction both in present time and future (Hui et al 1995 quoted from
Cachlin 2002)
So, although these researches are proved the relationship between demand/withdraw and marital satisfaction, but most of them represent the
complexity of this communication and its nature is not known well yet. So, this pattern is determinant to predicate the main marriage outcomes
such as marital satisfaction and divorce, thus it is important to understand this complex relationship better and more accurate and investigate
more accurate in future researches. In summary, the results obtained in this study indicate that two patterns of mutual constructive and avoidance
communications are consistent in theoretical principals and performed researches, but the relationship between the pattern of demand / withdraw
and marital satisfaction has uncertainty. In sum, it can be concluded the quality of marriage life can be used two approaches:
to identify the couple's communication style and try to change unhealthy communication styles through education, counseling and other
therapeutic interventions. Identify the variables associated with marital satisfaction and promotes the values and ultimately increase marital
satisfaction and quality of life can be improved the communication styles of couples in an atmosphere of calm and confidence.

Farid Abbasi *, Karim Afsharinia

International Journal of Economy, Management and Social Sciences Vol(4), No (3), March, 2015.

(Not mentioned)