Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Counseling

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Phillip Waalkes


Susan Kashubeck-West

Rocco Cottone

Agata Freedle


Infertility remains one of the most difficult relational contexts for couples. However, some research suggests that some couples actually increase their overall satisfaction in their relationship through infertility due to a deeply shared emotional experience. To the knowledge of the author of this dissertation, no studies exist which explain how couples arrive at their relational outcomes through the experience of infertility. These studies within this dissertation add to the present literature by explaining how couples may arrive at their relational outcome through the lens of Gottman Method Couple Therapy (GMCT). For both studies presented here, 902 participants were recruited through various social media platforms. Participants completed scales regarding their overall satisfaction in their couple relationship, their perceived relational impact of their experience of infertility, as well as the Sound Relationship House Questionnaire (SRH-Q). Various aspects of the Gottman theoretical framework were examined, including Friendship and Intimacy, Shared Meaning, and Quality Sex, Passion, and Romance. These Gottman factors were also examined as a mediator between the relationship between overall couple satisfaction and the relational impact of infertility Further, Gottman Conflict Processes were also examined as a mediator, with Gottman Conflict Management (i.e., Compromise and Effective Repair Attempts) acting as a moderator within the mediation model. Significant bivariate correlations were found between relational quality of life during infertility and overall couple satisfaction (r = .354, p < .001). Friendship and Intimacy (β = .066), Shared Meaning (β = .191), and Quality Sex, Passion, and Romance (β = .155), along with Gottman Conflict Processes (β = .016), were all found to be mediators between relational quality of life during infertility and couple satisfaction. However, Gottman Conflict Management was found to moderate the relationship between quality of life during infertility and Gottman Conflict Processes within the moderated mediation model. Thus, Gottman couple therapy processes provided pathways to explain how couples within this sample arrived at their outcomes amidst infertility. Future directions for research will be discussed, as well as clinical implications and specific Gottman interventions for GMCT with this special population.