A Cross-Cultural Study of Perceived Marital Problems in Taiwan and the United States


Marital problems, Cross-cultural, Gender difference, Taiwanese couples, US couples


Research has consistently found an association between marital distress and poor mental and physical health of couples, as well as the impact on maladaptive child outcomes. Several studies have examined the problems that couples experience in the United States, while only one study has in Taiwan. However, there is no cross-cultural research on marital problems between the West and the East to examine how cultures influence couples’ perceived marital problems. This cross-cultural study of marital problems is important because couples in Taiwan and other collectivistic societies might have marital priorities that are unique to their cultural characteristics. Thus, the common marital problems in Western culture might not apply to Eastern culture. In this study, perceptions of marital problems by 213 married couples living in urban Taiwan and 715 couples in the United States were examined. Results indicated the US couples reported significantly more marital problems than did the Taiwan couples in five out of six areas: communication, intimacy/sexual relations, financial matters, division of labor, and power. On the other hand, rearing children was the biggest problem among Taiwan couples, while it was the least commonly reported problem among the US sample. Implications of these findings are discussed for increasing cultural sensitivity in the MFT field.

Original Publication Citation

*Su, L. P., Miller, R. B., *Canlas, J. M., Li, T. S., Hsiao, Y. L., & Willoughby, B. J. (2015). A cross-cultural study of perceived marital problems in Taiwan and the United States. Journal of Contemporary Family Therapy, 37, 165-175.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Contemporary Family Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor