Relationship Standards and Relationship Satisfaction in Chinese, Western, and Intercultural Couples Living in Australia and Hong Kong, China

W. Kim Halford*, Patrick W. L. Leung, Chan Hung-Cheung, Lau Chau-Wan, Danika N. Hiew, Fons J. R. van de Vijver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Partners in an intercultural couple can be similar because of selection effects (they were attracted to each other because of their similarity), accommodation (relationship length diminishes differences), or acculturation (the migrant partner adjusts to the dominant culture). The current study explored these sources of similarity, as well as the association of relationship standards with relationship satisfaction, by comparing intercultural couples (68 Chinese-Western couples) with two groups of monocultural couples (63 Western couples and 66 Chinese couples) across 2 countries of residence (China and Australia). Regardless of country of residence, Chinese couples rated Family Responsibility standards (e.g., relations with the extended family and maintaining relational harmony) as more important than Western couples. Western couples rated Couple Bond standards (e.g., the demonstration of love and caring) as more important than Chinese. Intercultural couples endorsed standards to an intermediate extent between the Chinese and Western couples. There was considerable similarity of partners' standards within couples in all 3 groups of couples. Endorsement of Couple Bond standards and partner similarity on Family Responsibility standards were associated with relationship satisfaction across all 3 groups and both countries of residence. We conclude that cultural differences in endorsement of relationship standards show little acculturative change, at least in first-generation migrants. The substantial similarity in partners' standards in intercultural couples seems to be due primarily to selection effects. The association of standards with satisfaction is remarkably similar across countries of residence and cultural groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-142
Number of pages16
JournalCouple and family psychology-Research and practice
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • couple relationship
  • intercultural couple
  • relationship standard
  • acculturation
  • cross-cultural


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