The relationship of adult attachment style, communication, and relationship satisfaction

Lauren Marcus, Fordham University


The associations among adult attachment style, couples' communication, and relationship satisfaction were examined in a sample of premarital and recently married couples. Understanding the correlates of relationship satisfaction is important at a time when the divorce rate in this country is as high as 50 to 67 percent. Taking the factors of communication and adult attachment style together also offered an opportunity to explore two key forces of marriage highlighted in the recent marital literature: the interpersonal aspects of interaction between the two partners and the intrapersonal aspects of each partner's internal beliefs, rules, attributions, and fantasies play on the nature of the premarital and early marital relationship (Berman, Marcus, & Berman., 1994). A total of 77 couples participated in this study, 29 (37.7%) were engaged, 26 (33.8%) were married up to 1.5 years, and 22 (28.6%) were planning marriage but not formally engaged by filling out a questionnaire packet including: The Locke-Wallace Short Marital Adjustment Test, The Adult Attachment Scale, The Attachment Style Inventory, and The Couple Communication questionnaire. The results indicated that both couples' attachment style and communication were found to be associated with relationship satisfaction, replicating previous findings in a sample of premarital and early marital couples. More specifically, couples in which both members had secure attachment styles (S-S) reported greater communication frequency and satisfaction and greater relationship satisfaction than couples in which one member was secure and the other insecure (S-I) or couples in which both members had insecure attachment styles (I-I). The study also found expected associations among two salient attachment dimensions (dependency and anxiety) with regard to communication and relationship satisfaction. Communication and relationship satisfaction scores were also strongly associated, as indicated by previous research, but again for an important subset of married couples. The combined effects for attachment as a moderator on the relationship between communication and relationship satisfaction were not supported in this study. In general, the results of this study indicated that attachment style and its underlying dimensions, and communication, particularly its frequency, were both important components of relationship satisfaction for premarital and recently married couples. However, attachment style and communication demonstrated independent associations with relationship satisfactions only and did not yield an effect, at least insofar as attachment moderated the association between communication and relationship satisfaction. Thus, the question of the relationship among interpersonal and intrapersonal aspects of marriage remains unanswered. Still, this research continued to provide information on two important correlates of marital satisfaction, attachment style and communication, in premarital and recently married couples, to better assist the prevention of marital dissatisfaction and dissolution. Divorce prevention is important to the mental health of American families given the strong associations between divorce and psychological morbidity in adults and children.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Marcus, Lauren, "The relationship of adult attachment style, communication, and relationship satisfaction" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9730100.