Communication Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


Gina G. Barker

Primary Subject Area

Mass Communications


Communication Competencies, Conflict Communication, Intercultural Communication, Intercultural Marriages, Language Fluency, Marital Satisfaction


International and Intercultural Communication


This qualitative study investigated the phenomenon of intercultural marriages, particularly the unique internal and external elements that impact communication and conflict within intercultural marriages of varying lengths and the intercultural communication competencies utilized by spouses in intercultural marriages. The research focused on three questions: (1) Which internal and external factors impact the effectiveness of communication between spouses in intercultural marriages the most? (2) Which communication competencies do spouses in intercultural marriages develop in order to address cross-cultural differences? (3) How do spouses in intercultural marriages experience and deal with conflict within their intercultural marriages? Data was obtained employing semi-structured interviews. Extensive interviews were conducted with 18 individuals who are married to and living with a spouse who is culturally different. Couples were composed of one Asian spouse and one Caucasian American spouse. Four main themes emerged from the interviews: three factors which impact communication, intercultural communication competencies, constructive and destructive conflict, and benefits of intercultural marriages. Results demonstrated the significance of effective communication to marital satisfaction in intercultural marriages. Findings also revealed that although intercultural marriages can have specific challenges to overcome, they also can have benefits that intracultural marriages cannot attain.