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Marital Satisfaction Inventory for Relationship Therapy Essay

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2021


Marital satisfaction is a vital indicator of the quality of intimate relationships. It is a set of subjective assessments of one partner correlated with his/her needs and expectations towards the other. The Marital Satisfaction Inventory or the MSI is a data collection method in the form of a questionnaire. It is a specially designed list of questions is used as a means of collecting information from a respondent. According to Balderrama-Durbin, “carefully constructed measures of relationship distress are critical for research, diagnosis, and clinical decision making” (2015, p. 7). The MSI is an instrument to consider the relationship between partners, identify roots of marital conflicts, and evaluate tension level of family distress.

The questionnaire method allows a researcher to study large social groups in a cost-effective manner. Anonymity and simplicity (respondents’ personalities are not recorded; only their answers are taken into account) are key features of the method. The MSI questionnaire can be used wherever there is a need for a rapid assessment of marital satisfaction. The instrument can be applied to research in the field of family psychology. A marriage counselor can also use it during a meeting with a couple. Moreover, one can benefit from it while working with a divorced couple in registry offices and courts. The MSI questionnaire is often used to diagnose the crisis of the marital subsystem at any stage of the family’s life cycle.

Creation of the Tool

The Marital Satisfaction Inventory (MSI) and The Marital Satisfaction Inventory-Revised (MSI-R) were developed by Snyder in the second part of the 20s century (Balderrama-Durbin et al., 2015). The MSI-R questionnaire was published later than the MSI questionnaire, and it reduced the number of categories comparing to the original version. Corresponding to the MSI, the MSI-R is larger and applies more representative samples for validation.

It consists of more than 10 profile scales: Inconsistency, Conventionalization, Global Distress, Affective Communication, Problem-Solving Communication, Aggression, Time Together, and Disagreement about Finances. Moreover, there are scales, such as Sexual Dissatisfaction, Role Orientation, Family History of Distress, Dissatisfaction with Children, Conflict over Child Rearing and Conflict with In-Laws (Lou et al., 2016).

Implementation of the MSI-R

The MSI-R is available as a paper form or computer-based assessment. It is 150 true or false questions and can be implemented to individuals or groups. It is completed by the individuals taking the test and requires about 25 minutes to complete; is self-scoring (Lou et al., 2016).

Target Population

Predominantly, the questionnaire is intended to be given to couples experiencing marital conflict and discord. Moreover, it is used primarily in couples relationship counseling and as a part of family therapy. The MSI-R questionnaire is explicitly aimed at assessing subjective feelings. It provides a wide range of social and emotional aspects of the existence of any married couple.

Follow-up Reporting

The MSI pre-tests are often given before treatment provided by psychologists, and the MSI post-tests are given after the therapy to measure results. Follow-up tests are carried several weeks after the treatment to assess long term results of treatment.

Advantages and disadvantages

There are three main advantages of the MSI-R and the first one is that subscales allow the assessment to measure the particular issue that is important to the concept. The second one is that assessment can be used in a diverse population of couples with various problems. Finally, scores can be normalized for better comparison and generalization of results.

There are a few disadvantages of the MSI-R and one of them is that categories are chosen by an author, not by a factor of the analysis. Moreover, test-retest validity may be affected by the fact that the person has already taken the test.

Theory of Personality

The assessment fits well with the trait theory of personality. As human personality is composed of various traits, people’s relationships are also composed of them. The MSI-R assesses different characteristics that form the marriage relationship. It allows each person in the marriage to identify which features are the most important to them. The data obtained during the study allows revealing the problem of satisfaction with marriage and family relations in young families.

MSI-R’s Empirical Validation

The research made by Lou, Lin, Chen, Balderrama-Durbin, and Snyder in 2016 is an exemplary study that assesses marital relationships using the MSI-R. The results of the research consider the significant links between marital satisfaction and various qualities of couple relationships. The researchers have determined that the MSI-R scales’ internal consistency “ranges from 0.70 to 0.93 (M = 0.82)” (Lou et al., 2016, p. 269) and internal consistency after 6 weeks (the mean test-retest reliability) ranges from “0.74 to 0.88 (M = 0.79)” (Lou et al., 2016, p. 269).

The scientists have assessed the truthfulness of the data: correlation for women “ranged from.13 to 33 (M=23)” (Lou et al., 2016, p. 270), and correlation for men ranged from “.12 to.35 (M=20)” (Lou et al., 2016, p. 270). The study reveals that the MSI-R questionnaire can collect information that is both valid and reliable (reliability is concerned with the consistency of data, whereas validity is concerned with the truthfulness of the data).

According to Lou et. al. (2016), nowadays, the marital relationships of adults across nations and cultures are similar in many ways. The level of satisfaction with marriage across cultures depends primarily on such scales as affective expression and problem-solving. It is also closely correlated with such profile scales as global relationship distress, a lack of satisfaction with the companionship of a couple, and disagreement regarding financial management.

Moreover, marital satisfaction is significantly reduced because of misunderstanding regarding parenting methods, dissatisfaction with sexual life, and the level of physical and psychological aggression (Lou et al., 2016). Factors such as gender-role differences, the coherence of role-playing behavior, personality traits, and real personal behavior of spouses affect the level of happiness in a relationship between spouses.


The MSI-R is a functional assessment with practical applications in couple’s therapy. The test has been validated by a great deal of research in a diverse range of populations. The results of the MSI-R correlate well with the theoretical results that would have been expected for each community.

The MSI-R is considered to be a useful instrument to identify causes of relational conflict in married couples. The study mentioned in the paperwork has recognized that the MSI-R questionnaire is a research method allowing access to valid and reliable information. Family problems have always been in the focus of the attention of psychologists. The institution of the family is always modifying, and therefore scientists and health professionals should adapt to changing family needs. The problems require an in-depth study of the processes occurring in the institution of the modern family to use this knowledge to optimize the interpersonal relationships and in preparing young people for marriage.


Balderrama-Durbin, C., Snyder, D. K., & Balsis, S. (2015). Tailoring assessment of relationship distress using the Marital Satisfaction Inventory—Brief Form. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 4(3), 1-9. Web.

Lou, Y. C., Lin, C. H., Chen, C. M., Balderrama-Durbin, C., & Snyder, D. K. (2016). Assessing intimate relationships of Chinese couples in Taiwan using the Marital Satisfaction Inventory–Revised. Assessment, 23(3), 267-278.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Marital Satisfaction Inventory for Relationship Therapy." July 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/marital-satisfaction-inventory-for-relationship-therapy/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Marital Satisfaction Inventory for Relationship Therapy'. 1 July.

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