Integrating the Relational Turbulence Model and a Multiple Goals Approach to Understand Topic Avoidance During the Transition to Extended Family

Sylvia L. Mikucki-Enyart, John P. Caughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study focuses on the transition to extended family that occurs as marriage creates in-law relationships along with the spousal unit. Specifically, it utilizes both the relational turbulence model and the multiple goals perspective to examine variations in communication avoidance and satisfaction with one’s in-law relationship. Our model proposes that key mechanisms of relational turbulence (i.e., relational uncertainty and interference from partners) are associated with in-law’s communicative goals (such as managing uncertainty, fostering a positive in-law identity, and maintaining family relationships), which in turn are associated with topic avoidance. In addition, we hypothesized that relational uncertainty, interference from partners, and the use of topic avoidance would be associated with dissatisfaction in nascent in-law bonds. A cross-sectional analysis of data from 203 children-in-law revealed that in addition to direct associations among relational uncertainty, interference from partners, topic avoidance, and satisfaction, children-in-law’s uncertainty management goals mediated a portion of the association between the mechanisms of turbulence and topic avoidance. These findings are consistent with our proposed model, suggesting important implications for our understanding of the transition to extended family, as well as our understanding of relational turbulence and multiple goals in in-law relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-296
Number of pages30
JournalCommunication Research
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

Keywords

  • in-law relationships
  • multiple goals
  • relational turbulence model
  • relationship satisfaction
  • topic avoidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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