Marital Satisfaction, Communication Patterns, and Couple Map Perceived by Balinese Women In Their Marriage.

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Marital Satisfaction, Communication Patterns, and Couple Map Perceived by

Balinese Women in Their Marriage


Made Diah Lestari, S.Psi, M.Psi (0029048107)










RESULTS……… 3 - 6 DISCUSSION………. 6 - 8 REFERENCES………... 8


Marital Satisfaction, Communication Patterns, and Couple Map Perceived by

Balinese Women in Their Marriage

Made Diah Lestari

Psychology Study Program, Faculty of Medicine, Udayana University


The view of feminism on family changed the traditional conception of the role of husband and wife. Feminism sees the family as an open system that allows for changes in the role and opportunity (Olson & Defrain, 2003). Wife's role is not limited to parenting (expressive role) and the husband is not the only side that sustains family income (instrumental role). It is often found in growing city that presents opportunities and diverse demands of live, one example is Denpasar - Bali. On the other hand, the culture and customs of Bali presents unique social roles for men and women who are married. The social roles are something inherited. In effect, the role is complex, varied between change and tradition demands. Complexity and the changing role impact on of cohesion, flexibility, and communication patterns in couples. Cohesion and flexibility are the dimensions that determine the dynamics of couples (Olson & Defrain, 2003). This study would like to see the shape of couple map, communication patterns and marital satisfaction perceived by Balinese Women in their marriage. The approach used is a quantitative approach to measure Couple and Family Scale developed by Olson. The subjects of this study were Balinese Women, domicile in Denpasar, aged 25-54 years who are married and working. The results showed that the relationship of husband and wife relatively enmeshed, with rules that are flexible. Message clarity and speaking skill are two of the main content on communication between couples in the study. The subjects of this study are satisfied in their marriage.



The family is a system where there is a collection of roles and rules in it. The roles are concerning the relationship between husband and wife, parent and child, including how the family presents themselves in the society. Speaking of the relationship between husband and wife, it also includes elements of the division of roles. The conventional point of view sees that the wife plays the parenting or domestic role or better known as the expressive role, while the husband assumes the breadwinner role termed as the instrumental role (Olson & Defrain, 2003).

In the study of feminism, this role is not absolute, meaning that the wife does not always take on the domestic role, but she can be the backbone of the family as the breadwinner. The opposite also applies to her husband. This phenomenon is common in big cities that present open opportunities for women to play a role outside of the home. On the other hand, living in large cities also demands costs and expenses for greater consumption so this should lead to a dual income family, where husband and wife equally play an instrumental role in order to meet the needs of the family. One of the big cities to be studied is Denpasar.

Denpasar is the capital city of Bali Province which has now developed into a plural city. There are local and also migrant communities. For the local communities, the cultural values are inherent and internalized. This is what makes the community and the individuals within it exist as a unique entity. They are unique because they live on two different sides, but mutually interact. There are the evolution of times and changes, as well as cultures and customs on the other side of the continuum. The people in Denpasar in their daily lives exist on this continuum. Each side of the continuum presents varied roles for individuals that lead to complex roles. This complexity is

experienced by women who are married and working. Their role is not only that as a mother who plays the expressive role but also the instrumental role, and the social role by customs. In the study of family dynamics, the change of role is one of the factors that results in changes to the family map known as the couple map. Cohesion, flexibility and communication are the three components that make up the couple map (Olson & Defrain, 2003).

Cohesion refers to the emotional bond between family members. Cohesion dimension consists of emotional bonding, boundaries, coalitions, time, place, number of friendships, decision-making, interests and creations. The focus of cohesion is how the family system works in balance between the continuum of separateness and the continuum of togetherness (Olson & Gorall, 2003). There are four levels of cohesion namely disengaged, separated, connected, and enmeshed. Disengaged and enmeshed are classified into the unbalanced level. Separated and connected on the other hand are classified into the well-balanced level that support the formation of couples and families that can function optimally. The characteristics of each level are described in Figure 1. Circumplex Model: Couple and Family Map. From the image, the differences in the application of the dimensions of cohesion in couples and families can be observed.


and chaotic, on the other hand, are usually found in troubled families.

Couple map refers to a couple or family map by taking into consideration the level of cohesion and flexibility. The interconnection between the levels of cohesion and flexibility creates 16 types of couples in the couple map. The characteristics of the 16 types of couples are illustrated by Figure 1. Circumplex Model: Couple and Family Map.

Figure 1. Circumplex Model: Couple and Family Map

Source: Olson (in Kouneski, 2000)

Furthermore, Olson (2000) states that the communication is present in the third dimension of the couple and family map. Communication is stated as the facilitating dimension. The dimension of communication consists of listening skills, speaking skills, self disclosure, clarity, focus on a conversation, as well as respect and acceptance.

Through the description concerning the couple map, this study aims to see how the image of the couple map is perceived by Balinese women who are married and working in their marriage. This study also aims to see the patterns of communication in

the marriage and the extent of their marital satisfaction. The results of this study are expected to help the women who work and have a complex role in life to still feel contentment in their marriage. This study also intends to provide an overview of the factors that determine the marital satisfaction and the optimal functioning of the family. METHODS

This research is a quantitative research using couple and family scale (Olson & Defrain, 2003). The measuring instrument is also supported with open ended questions to obtain the data associated with the experience of the subjects related to the measured dimensions. The subjects were 50 women who are married and working in Bali, based in Denpasar, and aged 25 to 54 years old. The data obtained from the research subjects were analyzed using cross tabulation analysis, descriptive statistics, linier regression analysis, and coding analysis.



Table 1. Description of Research Subjects

Distribution of Research Subjects By Their Age

Age Frequency Percent

25 – 34 years 18 36%

35 – 44 years 23 46%

45 – 54 years 9 18%

Distribution of Research Subjects By Their Marriage Age

Marriage Age Frequency Percent

1 - 5 years 16 32%

Distribution of Research Subjects By Their Number of Children The Number of

Distribution of Research Subjects By Parenting Contribution

Contribution Frequency Percent

0% - 30% 9 18%

31% - 70% 15 30%

71% - 100% 26 52%

Distribution of Research Subjects By Education Level

Education Frequency Percent

High School 9 18%

3 year Diploma 7 14%

S1 28 56%

S2 6 12%

Distribution of Research Subjects By Age Difference from The Husband Age Difference Frequency Percent The husband is


2 4%

Having the same age 10 20% The husband is older

1 – 3 years

23 46%

The husband is older 4 – 7 years old

15 30%

Distribution of Research Subjects By


Types of Occupation Frequency Percent

Civil Servant 33 66%

Private Employee 17 34%

Distribution of Research Subjects By Monthly Salary

Salary Frequency Percent 500 thousand – 1


1 2%

1 million – 2 million 13 26% 2 million – 5 million 35 70%

>5 million 1 2%

Distribution of Research Subjects By Working Period

Working Period Frequency Percent

0 – 3 years 6 12%

4 – 6 years 9 18%

7– 10 years 5 10%

>10 years 30 60%

The distribution of cohesion level frequency is illustrated in Table 2. Cohesion Level Frequency.The table shows that there is no subject in disengaged level. Enmeshed level is the type that appears most often. It means that most of the subjects have a great emotional bond and demand high loyalty of their partners. The subjects are very dependent and reactive in terms of feelings towards each other. At this enmeshed type, the subjects cannot be separated from their husbands or partners, and there is almost no privacy at all. The subjects’ energy and activity are focused exclusively on their husbands. Enmeshed type in marriage is usually characterized by lack of social interaction and friendship (Olson & Gorall, 2003).

Table 2. Cohesion Level Frequency Cohesion Level Frequency Percent

Disengaged 0 0%

Separated 5 10%

Connected 13 26%

Enmeshed 32 64%


Through regression testing, it was found that the factors such as age, the age of marriage, the number of children, the parenting contribution, education level, age difference from the husband, occupation, working period, and salary all together contributed as much as 19.3% on the variation of the cohesion dimension.

On the dimension of flexibility, flexible is the level that appears most often, followed by the structured level. This suggests that most of the subjects perceive that in their marriage, the equalitarian leadership pattern is applied with a democratic approach in decision-making. Negotiations are applied openly and do not rule out the possibility of the involvement of other family members such as children in discussions for problem solving. Roles are shared and dynamic in nature if required. Role changes are possible in this level (Olson & Gorall, 2003). The distribution of flexibility level frequency can be observed inTable 3. Flexibility Level Frequency.

Table 3. Flexibility Level Frequency Flexibility Level Frequency Percent

Rigid 1 2%

Structured 19 38%

Flexible 23 46%

Chaotic 7 14%

Total 50 100%

Simultaneously, the variables of age, age of marriage, number of children, the parenting contribution, the age difference with husband, level of education, occupation, working period, and income contributed 32.3 % to the variation in the flexibility dimension.

Through the overview of the distribution of subjects based on the level of cohesion and flexibility, in Table 4.

Frequency Couple Type Map,it can be seen that most of the subjects have the flexibly

enmeshed type. This means that most of the subjects are in the mid range zone.

The subjects located on the mid range zone are characterized by one dimension functioning optimally but the other dimension still needing attention. If analyzed by the results of the distribution of subjects based on cohesion and flexibility dimensions, the research subjects are optimal in the dimension of flexibility but rather weak in the cohesion dimension in which the subjects are largely at the enmeshed level with the high level of dependency on their partners.

The communication that exists between the couples is open communication; the couples always share their feelings and thoughts, they focus on the topic, the message they want to convey is clear, they always talk to each other, they give positive feedback, and there is growing respect and acceptance towards their partner.

Table 4. Couple Map Type Frequency

Couple Map Types Frequency Percent Chaotically Disengaged 0 0% Chaotically Separated 0 0% Chaotically Connected 0 0% Chaotically Enmeshed 7 14%

Flexibly Disengaged 0 0%

Flexibly Separated 0 0%

Flexibly Connected 4 8%

Flexibly Enmeshed 19 38%

Structurally Disengaged 0 0% Structurally Separated 5 10% Structurally Connected 8 16% Structurally Enmeshed 6 12%

Rigidly Disengaged 0 0%

Rigidly Separated 0 0%

Rigidly Connected 1 2%

Rigidly Enmeshed 0 0%

Total 50 100%


of marriage, number of children, parenting contribution, the age difference with husband, education level, occupation, working period, and salary all together contributed to 35.5 % to the couple map variation.

Overall, most of the subjects were satisfied with their marriage. Through the coding analysis, the factors contributing to the marriage satisfaction are respect and acceptance, self disclosure, negotiation style, roles relationship, loyalty, number of children, and age of marriage. Respect and acceptance is the most responses in this study. The subjects stated that accept partner’s characteristics is resource of marital satisfaction. Subjects also felt that self disclosure is resource of couple happiness. In flexibility dimension, problem solving style and negotiation opportunity are the main factors that contributed to marital satisfaction. These factors include how their partner regard their career and how their problem solving negotiation. Subject will satisfied when they are given a great opportunity for career by their husband. They also need negotiation process in solving problem. They need their husband respect their idea, opinion, and alternatives solution regarding to the problem.

In cohesion dimension, loyalty is a main factor that contributed to marital satisfaction. Loyalty is how far their partner can be a trusted figure. Loyalty is also amount of compliment they are given by their husband. Two subjects also said that children are resources of happiness and marital satisfaction. Contribution of the variables such as age, age of marriage, number of children, parenting contribution, age difference with husband, education level, occupation, working period and salary all together is 23.9 % towards the variation in marital satisfaction.

In this study, it was found that variations in marital satisfaction were significantly determined by the patterns of

communication and the level of cohesion. The opposite results were obtained on the contribution of flexibility and the type of couple map, where the two variables did not contribute significantly to the marriage satisfaction of the subjects.

Table 5. Contribution of Communication Patterns, Cohesion, Flexibility, and Couple Map

Types to Marriage Satisfaction

Predictors R R2 F Sig

Active listening .371 0.137 7.639 .008 Speaking skill .670 0,449 39.058 .000 Self disclosure .567 0,322 22.785 .000 Clarity .736 0,541 56.655 .000 Attentive


.643 0,413 33.839 .000

Respect and regards

.607 0,369 28.030 .000

Cohesion .600 0,360 27.009 .000 Flexibility .238 0,057 2.890 .096 Couple Map .111 0,012 .603 .441

From the Table 5. Contribution of Communication Patterns, Cohesion, Flexibility, and Couple Map Types to Marriage Satisfaction, it can be seen that the role of communication pattern is very important in creating marital satisfaction. The greatest contribution was from the clarity, which is the clarity of the message delivered by the couple. The research subjects also consider that cohesion is more important than flexibility in generating marital satisfaction.



is very exclusive. Wives with this type of couple map usually have a little social networking outside of their marriage. The positive point is that the rules are applied flexibly; the husband and wife switch roles in a flexible, not rigid manner. Similarly, in decision making, everyone plays a role in it and the decision making is done under democratic principles.

The above description is in accordance with the assumptions of this research, in which for the working women, the roles change flexibly. The type leadership in any marriage is equalitarian, namely there is equality between husband and wife. Decision-making is not always done by the husband who initially played the instrumental role. Sometimes wives can also act as leaders and be given the chance to take a decision.

On the dimension of cohesion, the results of the study showed that although the dimension of flexibility, leadership and the rules aspects are applied democratically, wives still have an emotional bond with their husbands. Although the wives are given an equal number of roles, they still perceive themselves to be dependent on their husbands. The next interesting finding is that although the research subjects have a working status, they mainly focus on their marriage and families. Most of them also have a limited social network outside of marriage and the family environment. These findings are interesting for further investigation regarding the breadth of social networking of the working women. When analyzed further, of course, it can also be concluded that although the women are working, they still give their primary attention to their marriage and families.

The communication that exists between the couples in this study is open, focused, has clarity of the message, involves speaking skills, ability to give positive feedback, and there is respect and acceptance between the couples.

The flexible enmeshed type belongs to the mid range zone. In order to improve the family functioning, the research subjects need to cultivate their independence, try to be less attached to their partners, look for a variety of activities outside of the marriage and the family as a means of self-privacy, and extend social networking because no matter what each woman needs to enjoy a world of their own in addition to devotion to their husbands and families. In contrast to Olson & Defrain (2003), flexibility does not contribute significantly to marital satisfaction. Subjects are more concerned with aspects of communication and cohesion.

The contribution of the variables namely age, age of marriage, number of children, the parenting contribution, age difference with the husband, education level, occupation, working period, and salary all together was 23.9 % towards the variation in marital satisfaction. The remaining 76.1 % was explained by a number of other variables that were not analyzed in this study.

In order to develop the theory concerning the couple map, the implementation of cohesion and flexibility and what causes cohesion contribution is greater than the contribution of flexibility need to be further studied. Another thing that needs to be investigated is the individual characteristic variables, and certain traits that support the functioning of a marriage. Given that the Indonesians, exclusively Bali are mostly consisting of extended families, it is necessary to also study the role of the family, the picture of the relationship between wives and their partners’ extended families and their husbands’regional or ethnic origin.


the message and speaking skills are the two main factors in communicating with the biggest contribution in determining marriage satisfaction.


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Figure 1. Circumplex Model: Couple andFamily Map

Figure 1.

Circumplex Model: Couple andFamily Map p.5
Table 2. Cohesion Level Frequency

Table 2.

Cohesion Level Frequency p.6
Table 1. Description of Research Subjects

Table 1.

Description of Research Subjects p.6



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