Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure and Marital Satisfaction in Intercultural Marriages

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure and Marital Satisfaction in Intercultural Marriages

Article excerpt

High divorce rates in the United States combined with the detrimental effects of unhappy marriage on the physical and mental health of spouses and children have led to an increased amount of research on marital satisfaction and marital stability (Amato, 2000; Booth & Amato, 2001; Cummings, Schermerhorn, Davies, Goeke-Morey, & Cummings, 2006; Perrone, Webb, & Blalock, 2005). While there have been many attempts to both find causes of marital dysfunction and to propose solutions (Bartle-Haring, & Lai, 2010; Christensen, Atkins, Baucom, & Yi, 2010; Kim, 2010; Larson & Holman, 1994), the issue of relationship stability and satisfaction can hardly be considered resolved.

One of the factors found to play an important role in marriage is leisure. The existing research shows that leisure is related to marital satisfaction (Crawford, Houts, Huston, & George, 2002; Johnson, Zabriskie, & Hill, 2006), marital cohesion and adaptability, as well as family functioning (Zabriskie & McCormick, 2001). It was suggested that by spending time together, family members bond, improve communication and learn to adapt to stressful situations (Johnson et al., 2006; Kelly, 1997; Shaw, 1997). Besides positive roles of leisure in marital life, research has also shown leisure may serve as a source of disagreements and tension. For example, in Oggins' (2003) study tension about leisure was the second most often reported reason for conflict in both African American and Euro-American couples, even exceeding disagreements related to children or family of origin. Only money was mentioned more frequently as the cause of conflict within the family.

Due to the social changes in the last half a century, the concepts of marriage and family have evolved drastically. Increased rates of cohabitation (Popenoe & Whitehead, 1999), singleparent households (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010), couples deciding to remain childless (Whitehead & Popenoe, 2008), and intercultural unions (Zhang & Van Hook, 2009) have redefined the landscape of marriage and family at the turn of the twenty first century. The typical family with two married parents of different sex w ho raise their children together often no longer represents the reality of many Americans.

Despite these social changes and increasing diversity of family structure, the majority of studies examining the relationship between leisure and marital satisfaction remain focused on the mainstream Anglo-American couples or do not account for the race/ethnicity/cultural background of participants (Crawford et al., 2002; Holman & Jacquart, 1988; Johnson et al., 2006). Leisure behavior of intercultural couples has attracted only scant attention among leisure researchers (Hibbler & Shinew, 2002).

According to Wang (2012), the number of interracial marriages in the U.S. has increased from 3.2% of all marriages in the 1980s to about 8.4% in 2010. In light of increased globalization trends, including growth of international travel and transnational networks, as well as the increased acceptance of interracial and intercultural unions1 (Fu, 2008; Zhang & Van Hook, 2009), it is expected these marriages will become even more common in the future. Studies have shown interracial and intercultural marriages are often considered as more vulnerable to marital dissolution and face more challenges in everyday life than couples of the same background (Crippen & Brew, 2007; Forry, Leslie, & Letiecq, 2007; Gaines & Leaver, 2002; Kalmijn, de Graaf, & Janssen, 2005). Considering the rapidly increasing rates of interracial marriages in the U.S., as well as challenges they face, it is important to consider leisure among interracial and intercultural unions. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to investigate the roles of leisure in marital satisfaction of intercultural couples. More specifically, this study examined 1) the challenges faced by intercultural couples that are related to their leisure engagements, 2) the roles of leisure in improving their marital satisfaction, and 3) the strategies used by couples to enhance marital satisfaction through leisure. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.