Very little research on marital dynamics has focused on Latinos or Mexican-origin couples, although Latinos are currently the largest minority group in the United States. Furthermore, previous studies suggest women of Mexican origin experience a gradual decline in marital satisfaction over their life course, but examination of this issue has yielded inconsistent findings. The current study was conducted to investigate the influence of three specific Latino cultural values on the marital satisfaction of women of Mexican origin: familismo (family loyalty, unity, and obligation), machismo (male dominance and responsibility to provide for and protect his family), and marianismo (women as self-sacrificing, nurturing, and pious). The goal of this study was to examine the accompanying and shifting cultural values of the acculturation process and increase understanding of the implications of Latino cultural values on marital satisfaction among women of Mexican origin in U.S. society.
Two hundred and fourteen married women of Mexican origin, ranging in age from 19 to 68 (M = 37), participated in the study. Data collection was completed online through an internet survey program. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Short Acculturation Scale (Marin, Sabogal, Marin, Otero-Sabogal, & Perez-Stable, 1987), the Familism Scale (Lugo Steidel & Contreras, 2003), the Machismo Subscale of the Multiphasic Assessment of Cultural Constructs-Short Form (Cuellar, Arnold, & Gonzalez, 1995), the Latina Values Scale-Revised (Marano, 2000; revised by Melendez, 2004), the Relationship Assessment Scale (Hendrick, 1988), and a supplemental question regarding their tolerance for divorce.
Three hypotheses were proposed in terms of the three cultural values, participant acculturation level, and husband's generational status, with marital satisfaction as the criterion variable. A large percentage (71.5%) of the sample in the study was well-educated, with either a college, master's, or doctoral degree; hence, the results are reflective of highly educated, Mexican-origin women. Using hierarchical regression analyses it was found that familismo was positively correlated with marital satisfaction among women of Mexican origin. In addition, neither of the hypothesized interactions (marianismo x perceived machismo (participant's perception of her husband's endorsement of machismo) and acculturation x husband's generational status) was confirmed. Correlational and regression analyses revealed that both marianismo and perceived machismo were significantly and negatively correlated with marital satisfaction. Clinical and research implications, limitations of the study, and directions for future research are discussed.