Malihe Khabazi; seyed Ali kimiaee; Hossein kareshki; Ali Mashhadi
The present study was conducted with the aim of evaluating the structural equation model of factors influencing marital intimacy in newlywed couples. The present study used a quantitative ...
The present study was conducted with the aim of evaluating the structural equation model of factors influencing marital intimacy in newlywed couples. The present study used a quantitative approach. The study employed a developmental research design using descriptive correlational method and path analysis. The statistical population of the present study included all the couples who participated in the marriage workshops of the Ministry of Social Justice and the Ministry of Sports and Youth of Shahrekord in the summer of 2019. The research sample included 200 couples (M=200 & F=200) who were selected by the convenience sampling method. The couples completed the Couples Intimacy, Marital Empathy, Self-Disclosure, and Marital Trust Questionnaires. The results showed that there is a significant and positive relationship between empathy and its components, self-disclosure and its components, and trust in marital intimacy (p<05). Furthermore, when investigating the modeling of the research variables with marital intimacy, the results showed that, with the mediating role of trust, self-disclosure and empathy are able to predict marital intimacy. Finally, regarding the results of the study, it can be said that exploring components affecting couples' intimacy can be important in improving the quality of their relationship and is effective in developing practical plans to improve the newlywed couples' relationship. IntroductionThe need for love and intimacy and a close relationship is one of the main reasons for marriage (Dandurand & Lafontaine, 2013). Empathy, self-disclosure and trust are among the interpersonal factors that influence marital intimacy. High levels of empathy are accompanied by positive relationships between couples; While responses lacking empathy lead to increased tension and conflict in the relationship (Perrone-McGovern, 2014).Self-disclosure or expression of feelings and attitudes is also one of the important dimensions of intimacy in romantic relationships (Sinclair & Dowdy, 2005). At times, empathy and self-disclosure do not result in intimacy, then, the existence of a variable called trust can play a mediating role alongside them. Trust is defined as a feeling of security and openness. Different levels of trust may exist in couple relationships (Khalifian & Barry, 2016).Intimate and romantic relationships are among the features and necessities of every marital relationship. The engagement phase is expected to be the most romantic period of marriage, and the formation of relationships and behaviors of couples during this period can influence the couples and their families in positive or negative ways (Razavi et al., 2019).Therefore, according to the aforementioned literature, intimacy is the key factor in maintaining marital relationships. Experts believe that since the number of divorces during Aghd period is increasing in recent years, improving marital intimacy and consequently, discovering its influencing factors can play a role in preventing marital conflicts. Thus, it sounds necessary to discover the factor structure of marital intimacy to identify the theoretical foundation of these problems and formulate appropriate interventions accordingly. Therefore, the current research aims to evaluate couple relationships during Aghd period and explore the pattern of structural relationships of factors affecting marital intimacy. MethodsThis developmental research employed a descriptive correlational method alongside path analysis. The statistical population of the study included all the couples who participated in the workshops concerning Aghd period held by the Ministry of Social Justice and the Ministry of Sports and Youth of Shahrekord in the summer of 2019. The research sample included 200 couples (male=200 and female=200) who were selected by convenience sampling method. The couples completed questionnaires of couple intimacy, marital empathy, self-disclosure and marital trust. The research was first approved by the biomedical ethics committee of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad under the number IR.U.M.REC.1399.052. Then, with the help of the Sports and Youth Organization of Shahrekord, the research questionnaires were distributed electronically among the couples participating in the workshops concerning the Aghd period. The data then was analyzed using statistical analysis software SPSS_21 and LISREL. The findingsBased on the results, there is a positive and significant correlation between the total score of intimacy and empathy (r = 0.79, p < 0.01), self-disclosure (r = 0.79, p < 0.01) and trust (r = 0.76, p < 0.01).According to the results, the goodness of fit indices of GFI and AGFI in this model are estimated to be greater than the conventional value of 0.08, which shows the high power of the model in explaining the relationship between the mentioned variables. Moreover, the χ^2/df ratio is less than 3, which indicates the goodness of fit of the model; therefore, the results of the model are reliable and valid and the model is well fitted. Figure 1 shows the research model. Figure 1. Diagram of Structural Equations Model Tested When Significant Following, Sobel test is used to investigate the role of mediator. The testresults are shown in Table 1. Table 1. Results of Mediation Effects using the Sobel TestIndependentMediatorDependentEffect 1Effect 2Error 1Error 2ZpEmpathyTrustIntimacy0.400.970.090.074.2320.001Self-disclosure TrustIntimacy0.580.970.090.075.8430.001Discussion and conclusionsThe aim of the present study was to investigate the relationships of couples during the Aghd period, and evaluate the structural pattern of factors influencing marital intimacy. The results indicated that there is a significant positive relationship between empathy and its components, self-disclosure and its components, and trust with marital intimacy. Furthermore, when investigating the research modeling, it was found that empathy and self-disclosure are able to predict marital intimacy with the mediation of trust.Regarding the relationship between empathy and intimacy, it can be said that empathy makes couples have a loving view of each other and pay attention to each other's conversations, consequently, this leads to an increase in love and intimacy between them. Mitchell et al. (Mitchell, 2008) showed that self-disclosure and empathy are dimensions of forming intimacy between couples. In men, self-disclosure and empathy predict intimacy, and in women, self-disclosure and empathy of their life partner predict their intimacy. People who have less trust in their partners, are engaged in more arguments and conflicts, and when trust plays an essential role in a couple’s relationship, they will experience more intimacy and love (Murray et al, 2006).In explaining the mediating role of trust in predicting self-disclosure and marital intimacy, it can be stated that people are more likely to disclose themselves to people they trust. In marital relationships, couples who disclose a lot are likely to receive high disclosure as compared to those who disclose little in a closed relationship (Tang et al., 2013). In explaining the mediating role of trust in the relationship between empathy and intimacy, the main concept of empathy can be considered as the understanding of the mental state of another person, which includes both emotional and cognitive processes (Kim, 2017).Finally, as the results suggest, we can say that self-disclosure and trust are effective components in marital intimacy. Couples who are in the Aghd period may experience various problems in their relationship with each other due to insufficient understanding and specific conflicts of the period. The results indicated that paying attention to empathy, self-disclosure and trust can be effective in improving the quality of intimacy and couple relationships.In the present study, the results of the research are limited to the couples who lived in Shahrekord during the Aghd period, so, other researchers should act cautiously when generalizing the results to other couples, cultures, and cities. It is suggested to develope educational programs alongside research components in order to improve couples relationships.