Academic journal article Asian Social Science

A Preliminary Study: What Is Love in a Marriage?

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

A Preliminary Study: What Is Love in a Marriage?

Article excerpt


This study investigates how urban Malays give meanings to love within marriage. A total of 245 participants attending a compulsory premarital program in Klang Valley, Malaysia agreed to take part in this study. Questionnaires consisting of personal and relationship background were distributed to participants. How participants give meanings to love which exists in a marriage were rated using a self developed prototype list of Subjective Meanings of Marital Love (SMML). Data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 19 for Windows (SPSS 19) and Sternberg's Triangular Love Theory was applied when examining possible components of love which exists within marriage. Results showed that the most agreeable elements of love within marriage belonged to commitment and intimacy component. On the other hand, the least agreeable elements of love within marriage came from the passion component of love. Overall, the most unique results showed that participants reported that love in a marriage as having strong relationship towards God. Findings implied the importance of investigating love experiences which is specific to context of love experience - such as love within marriage and faith aspects when studying close relationships.

Keywords: subjective meanings of love, marital love, prototype, soon-to-be-married, urban Malays

1. Introduction

The euphoric feelings of love experienced in early marriage may soon be challenged by responsibilities and commitment within the marriage. To illustrate, the daily routine of juggling between meeting the needs of work and family can easily create stress and conflict between married couples. This condition worsens when newly wedded couples are burdened with new responsibilities such as caring for a newborn in the family. Lack of quality time between the husband and wife may harm existing marital love relationships. This includes the inability to pursue joint quality activities by spouses. Moreover, the euphoric feelings of romantic love experienced as couples will eventually deteriorate and gradually move towards companionate love which revolves around commitment in a marriage (Bonds-Raacke et al., 2001; Ruvolo and Veroff, 1997). The gradual decrease in romantic love that married couples once experienced may be perceived by married individual as an experience of "deterioration of love". This experience can eventually results in unhappy and unsatisfactory marriages. On the other hand, the well-being of a married individual who is not happy and dissatisfied can be badly affected. For example, research found that marital instability and distress can affect one's physical health (Kiecott-Glaser et al., 1993; Roberts et al., 2005). Findings also indicated that marital distress promotes depression among adults (Assh and Byers, 1996; Coyne et al., 1987; Horneffer and Fincham 1996; Ismail, 2004; Jackman-Cram et al., 2006; Low and Stocker, 2005).

The perception of "deterioration of love" within marriage can also influence other people in the family including children. Findings suggest that unhappy marriages cannot create a conducive environment for the development of family members (Crouter et al., 1999; Ismail, 2004; Webster-Stratton, 1990; Yela, 1998). Unhappy and depressed parents may not be able to play their parental roles as effectively (Webster-Stratton, 1990). Murray et al. (2006) discovered that parents experiencing depression may not provide appropriate support for their children in even the simplest tasks such as helping their children with homework. A longitudinal study showed that children with parents experiencing marital distress and conflict prevented them from making positive adjustments in adulthood (Cui et al., 2005). Furthermore, the depressed mood and marital conflict between parents were also found to harm children's adjustment (Low and Stocker, 2005). Krishnakumar and colleagues (2003) found that children with parents who practice negative interactions were also prone to poor social skills in dealing with daily life crises. …

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