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Marital Satisfaction and Marital Discord as Risk Markers for Intimate Partner Violence: A Meta-Analytic Review

NCJ Number
Journal of Family Violence Volume: 23 Issue: 3 Dated: April 2008 Pages: 149-160
Sandra M. Stith; Narkia M. Green; Douglas B. Smith; David B. Ward
Date Published
April 2008
12 pages
This meta-analysis (32 articles) examined the relationship between marital satisfaction/discord and intimate partner violence (IPV) among heterosexual relationships.
Study findings supported the hypothesis that predicted a significant positive association between marital discord and IPV and a significant negative association between marital satisfaction and IPV. Further, the findings showed a significant difference in the strength of relationships between marital discord and marital satisfaction in association with IPV. Apparently, both low martial satisfaction and high marital discord have a similar association with IPV. This finding confirms the appropriateness of combining these constructs in literature reviews. Study findings also supported the second hypothesis that standardized measures would yield stronger effect sizes than nonstandardized measures. This confirms the importance of using standardized instruments in future research because of their established validity and reliability. A third hypothesis was confirmed when findings showed a stronger relationship between IPV and marital satisfaction/discord for male offenders than for female offenders. This suggests that women may be less likely than men to turn to violence when marital satisfaction decreases. Also as predicted, the relationship between victimization and marital satisfaction/discord was stronger for female victims than for male victims. There was a larger effect size for the relationship between marital satisfaction/discord and IPV for victims than for offenders. Because the measures of marital satisfaction and IPV were taken at the same time, it was not possible to determine whether low levels of marital satisfaction/discord led to the abuse or resulted from the abuse. Future research should examine the causal connection between marital satisfaction/discord and IPV. Computer database searches were used in order to identify articles for inclusion in this study. The 32 studies used in the meta-analysis were conducted between 1980 and 2005. 3 tables and 75 references