Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Marital Interaction in Iranian Couples: Examining the Role of Culture

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Marital Interaction in Iranian Couples: Examining the Role of Culture

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: Text missing in the original.)


Communication is a key variable in understanding marital Interaction. As many studies have revealed, marital communication is a powerful predictor of marital quality and stability (e.g., Kerig andBacum, 2004; Halford et al., 2003; Gottman andNotarious, 2002; Ridley et al., 2001, Gottman, 1994). Therefore, marital studies are motivated by the goal of improving the relationships of distressed couples.

There is a considerable body of research in the West, using observational techniques, on how couples communicate in such cultures; however, apparently, very little is known about the communication behaviors of couples in other, non-Western cultures, and definitely there has been no study of marital interaction using the observational system in Iran.

Therefore, the aim of the present research is two-fold; on the one hand, it looks into the patterns of communication between spouses amongst Iranian married couples; on the other hand, it attempts to devise, formulate and introduce a newly customized culture-sensitive coding system to delineate modes of interaction between couples within Iranian families. The role of culture is, therefore, under scrutiny.

The paper is organized as follows. In Section 2, a review of related literature is presented. In Section 3, the method used in this research is provided, outlining the factors taken into consideration for devising and formulating the Iranian Couples Interaction Coding System (ICICS) and the need for such a culture-sensitive tool of behavioral measurement. In Section 4, the results and findings will be provided; and last but not least, Section 5 will serve as the discussion part of the results obtained.


"Distressed couples have a lower socioeconomic standing (Shapiro, 1996), are less skilled at parenting (see Erel and Burman, 1995) and have more troubled families" (see Fincham and Beach, 1999; all noted by Driver, 2006, p. 1). Researchers in this particular area of study have proposed many theories to explain marital distress and dysfunction, and a variable they emphasize inmost of these theories is the role of communication (Halford et al., 2003; Halford, Hahlweg, and Dunne, 1990). For instance, the Communication Skills Deficit Model posits that deficits in communication are etiologically implicated in the development of marital problems (Sabourin, 1995; Christence and Shenk, 1991). In addition to such theories couples themselves report communication problems as the leading reason for seeking marital therapy (Bacoum et al., 1990; Halford, et al., 1990).

Although a number of different methods have been used to examine the marital dyadic communication behaviors, most studies in the field of marital communication research are based upon self-reporting only (Christensen et al., 2006; Heyman, 2001; Heyman and Vivian, 2000, and Gottman et al., 1997).

However, observational research plays a major role in examining marriage, both for the purpose of description and also for that of constructing theories about the mechanism underlying the central phenomena occurring within a family (Gottman and Notarious, 2002, and Notarius, 2000). In fact, in order to further the overall goal of improving distressed relationships, observational researchers have dedicated themselves to the identification and description of couple interaction (Driver, 2006, Rehman, 2003, and Julien, Markman and Lindahl, 1989) and have been successful in providing some understanding of marital interactions associated with marital dysfunction or success (Fincham, et al., 1999; Gottman, et al. 1998). "Observational techniques revolutionized the study of marital communication because this method allowed researchers to capture the complexity and richness of marital interaction in an unprecedented manner" (Rehman, 2003, p.4).

A basic question posed in observational research is how the behavior of happy couples differs from that of the unhappy ones. …

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