Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Mediating Effects of Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness during Couple Leisure on the Relationship between Total Couple Leisure Satisfaction and Marital Satisfaction

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

The Mediating Effects of Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness during Couple Leisure on the Relationship between Total Couple Leisure Satisfaction and Marital Satisfaction

Article excerpt

The busyness of life has been identified as a contributor to unsatisfactory marital relationships (Cornelius, 2003; Kabeer, 2000, 2007; Schneider, Ainbinder, & Csikszentmihalyi, 2004). Likewise, walking in the park, sitting down to talk, and other simple activities that couples once frequently engaged in during their leisure time have declined (Appleton & Bohm, 2001). The struggle to provide financial support for the family, the challenges associated with raising children and managing family life, and the ever-present influence of technology and media devices are some of the many competing forces couples face in their attempt to strengthen their relationship (Claxton & Perry-Jenkins, 2008; Greenwood, Guner, Kocharkov, & Santos, 2012).

Given these challenges to marital satisfaction, the need to strengthen couple relationships and families becomes clear and widely applicable. Research on the welfare of marriages has revealed significant findings related to the importance of couple leisure in maintaining and nourishing relationships (Berg, Trost, Schneider, & Allison, 2001; Orthner, 1975). Studies have demonstrated that the amount of time spent on couple leisure and particularly the satisfaction level of those activities are powerful predictors of marriage quality (Ahlstrom, Lundberg, Zabriskie, Eggett, & Lindsay, 2012; Crawford, Houts, Huston, & George, 2002). Johnson, Zabriskie, and Hill (2006) further explained that satisfaction with home-based, common, and everyday leisure activities contributed more to increased marital satisfaction than novel, less frequent activities (e.g., travel, shows, and dinners at extravagant restaurants). Although these studies significantly clarified the relationship between couple leisure satisfaction and marital satisfaction, additional theoretical work is necessary to explain the association.

Among the numerous social theories, self-determination theory (SDT) has provided a framework for examining marriage quality in several studies (Blais, Sabourin, Boucher, Vallerand, 1990; Gaine & La Guardia, 2009; Gaudreau, Fecteau, Perreault, 2010; Knee, Patrick, Vietor, Nanayakkara & Neighbors, 2002; Weinstein, Hodgins, & Ryan, 2010). Most of these studies, however, focus on spouses' motivational levels toward marriage, or the implications of autonomy orientation versus control orientation within close relationships. The important role of fulfilling psychological needs (a fundamental component of the SDT) and its implication in marital satisfaction has received little attention. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to test Self-Determination Theory as a possible explanatory framework to understand the relationship between total couple leisure satisfaction and marital satisfaction. As fundamental components of SDT, three psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness, were tested as mediators through the Fulfillment of Psychological Needs during Couple Leisure (FPNL).

Review of Literature

Marital Satisfaction

The ever-growing need for strengthening the well-being of individuals and families has led scholars in marriage and family research to investigate marital satisfaction in depth (Bradbury, Fincham, & Beach, 2000). The processes of forming and maintaining satisfied marital relationships, as well as preventing or alleviating divorce, provides the justification for studying marital satisfaction (Bradbury et al., 2000; Gorchoff et al., 2008; Lavner & Bradbury, 2010; Rogers & Amato, 1997).

A clear definition of marital satisfaction was given by Ward et al. (2009). They stated that marital satisfaction is "an individual's emotional state of being content with the interactions, experiences, and expectations of his or her married life" (p. 415). Other definitions have proposed that simply identifying positive elements within marital interactions, experiences, and expectations does not necessarily mean being content with the relationship (Bradbury et al. …

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