Satisfaction in Close Relationships

By Johnson, Elizabeth M. | Journal of Marriage and Family, February 1999 | Go to article overview

Satisfaction in Close Relationships


Johnson, Elizabeth M., Journal of Marriage and Family


Satisfaction in Close Relationships. Robert J. Sternberg & Mahzad Hojjat (Eds.). New York: Guilford Press. 1997. 429 pp. ISBN 1-57230217-8. $45.00 cloth.

This edited volume addresses the question of what contributes to satisfaction in close relationships from the point of view of research psychologists and psychotherapists. Contributors offer theoretical models for understanding the nature of satisfaction, summarize and critique the empirical literature, present findings from their own research programs, and discuss ways of helping couples improve their relationships. The book includes diverse psychological perspectives, including that of communication skills, couple similarity, social exchange, evolutionary psychology, and adult attachment styles.

The 15 chapters of the book are divided into five parts. Part One introduces the reader to multiple views of the antecedents of satisfaction. Part Two examines relationship satisfaction as a dynamic process. Attention is paid to the role that couples play in constructing conditions that either support or hinder satisfaction. Part Three explores how information processing, attributions, and personality characteristics can contribute to the erosion of relationship satisfaction. Part Four presents three approaches used by psychotherapists to restore couple satisfaction. The authors describe therapeutic strategies that emphasize acceptance of partner weaknesses that are unlikely to change, conflict management skills, and the development of new interaction styles. A concluding chapter offers an insightful critique of extant research and suggestions for future research.

This book brings diverse views on relationship satisfaction to the reader's attention, ranging from how childhood experiences shape expectations about relationships to how couples' ongoing patterns of behavior affect relationships. There are, however, a few critical omissions. …

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