The Role of Self-Silencing in the Sanctification of Marriage and Life Satisfaction
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Marriage is changing, and the question arises concerning what marriage means, what marriage can look like, and how couples can make marriage work. Gender roles in marriage are becoming more flexible and diverse than in the traditional past, but some couples yet continue to conform to more conservative marriage roles. Many spouses perceive their performance of traditional gender roles as a service to God and a service that God helps them execute.
Sanctified marriages are said to have “spiritual character and significance” (Mahoney et al., 1999). Sanctification of marriage has been found to predict increased positive behavior, and has been associated with avoidance of escalation, and minimizing conflicts in relationships. Satisfaction with life is the cognitive component of well-being; “A global assessment of a person’s quality of life according to his chosen criteria” (Shin & Johnson, 1978). Helping others, prosocial attitudes, and having a sanctified outlook have been associated with satisfaction with life, well-being, and overall health.
Self-Silencing (Jack, 1991), the restriction of self -expression within intimate relationships in order to make and sustain intimacy, is characterized by four facets, Externalized Self Perception (ESP), Care as self-sacrifice, Silencing the Self, Divided Self (DS). Two of the facets, ESP and DS, have been shown to mediate the relationship between marital conflict and depression.
A sample of 65 predominantly Black, predominantly Christian, married women age 18 and up were recruited using a convenience sample of personal and professional contacts and Loyola University Maryland graduate students. Hypotheses and results were as follows:
(1) Age and length of marriage will be positively correlated with satisfaction with life in married women. This hypothesis was not supported.
(2) Sanctification of marriage and satisfaction with life will be significantly positively correlated. This hypothesis was supported.
(3) Silencing the self will be associated with satisfaction with life such that externalized self-perception, and divided self will be negatively correlated with satisfaction with life, and care as self-sacrifice and silencing the self will be positively correlated with satisfaction with life. This hypothesis was partially supported.
(4) Silencing the self will be associated with positive and negative affect such that externalized self-perception, and divided self will be positively correlated with negative affect and negatively correlated with positive affect, and care as self-sacrifice and silencing the self would be negatively correlated with negative affect, and positively correlated with positive affect. This hypothesis was partially supported.
(5) The four dimensions of silencing the self will each contribute unique significant variance to satisfaction with life, beyond age, length of marriage. This hypothesis was partially supported.
(6) The dimensions of Care as self-sacrifice and silencing the self will moderate the association between sanctification of marriage and satisfaction with life, such that higher scores on these dimensions will be associated with higher scores in satisfaction with life, and lower scores on these dimensions will be associated with lower scores in satisfaction with life. This moderation effect was not found.
These results stimulate possibilities for future research which could include analysis of male or mixed-gender samples, detailed analysis of potential differences between length of marriage and age groups, and other well-being outcome variables.