The dynamic goal theory of marital satisfaction

Tianyuan LI, Helene H. FUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Marital satisfaction is gaining increasing concern in modern society. The current review proposes the dynamic goal theory of marital satisfaction to integrate previous findings about marital satisfaction from a life span developmental perspective. The theory argues that people have multiple goals to achieve in their marriage. These marital goals can be classified into three categories: personal growth goals, companionship goals, and instrumental goals. The priority of the three types of marital goals is under dynamic changes across adulthood. Generally speaking, young couples emphasize the personal growth goals, middle-aged couples prioritize the instrumental goals, and old couples focus on the companionship goals. Whether the prioritized marital goals are achieved in marriage determines marital satisfaction. Other factors influencing marital satisfaction can be linked with marital goals in two ways. Some factors, such as life transitions and cultural values, can affect the priority of different marital goals; while other factors, such as communication pattern, problem solving, and attribution, can facilitate the achievement of the prioritized marital goals. Copyright © 2011 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-254
JournalReview of General Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


Li, T., & Fung, H. H. (2011). The dynamic goal theory of marital satisfaction. Review of General Psychology, 15(3), 246-254. doi: 10.1037/a0024694


  • Life span development
  • Marital goal
  • Marital satisfaction

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