Marital Power and Marital Satisfaction among American Muslims

Aliya Chapman

Major Professor: Lauren B Cattaneo, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Keith Renshaw, Maria Dakake

David J. King Hall, #1004G
December 18, 2013, 09:00 AM to 06:00 AM


American Muslims value marriage and report concern about rising divorce rates in their community.  This reported rise may relate to shifts in spousal power dynamics that are evident in gender role ideologies: American Muslims often hold traditional gender role beliefs but become more egalitarian with exposure to dominant American norms.  However, marital power takes many forms besides ideology; also, it is rare to find investigations of these constructs among American Muslims.  Participants in this sample of 219 American Muslims were highly religious and maritally satisfied, in contradiction to the community’s fears of high marital discord.  I hypothesized that religiosity would function as a form of marital power, but it did not work in this way.  Power, measured in multiple ways, indicated egalitarian gender role ideology and moderately traditional family task division.  Women expressed more egalitarian ideology in their spousal role than in their parental role; both genders divided decision-making more equally than task completion.  Egalitarian power division predicted greater marital satisfaction for both genders.  Gender role ideology moderated this relationship, but only for childcare division, such that egalitarian participants were less satisfied than traditional participants when they had unequal childcare division.  Very few participants reported that their parents/in-laws contributed to family tasks, suggesting that parents do not affect the marriage in this way.  Overall, results indicate that participants’ marriages are more similar to, than different from, non-Muslim American marriages.