An exploratory study on the impact of the missionary kid experience on marital satisfaction

Neil Richard Gilliland, Tennessee State University


This research explores the impact of the missionary kid experience on marital satisfaction. Fifty-eight missionary kids (MKs), primarily alumni from a boarding school in Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa, participated in this study. Missionary kids are individuals who spent at least three of their formative years outside of their passport culture. MKs live in cultures other than the cultures listed on their passport. MKs generally speak a second language, have been exposed to a variety of ideas and values, have traveled extensively, and develop the ability to adjust. MKs do not, in general, have roots and often are restless. Home is a vague concept to them. Because of their high mobility, MKs relationships are either marked by quick intensity or prevailing shallowness. They often struggle with personal identity and experience unresolved grief. In short, MKs bring a richness of experience both positive and negative to a marital relationship. This research will explore the level of identification the MK has with their host and passport culture. Marital satisfaction is an individual's view of their spouse and/or the relationship. Research indicates that there are a number of variables that contribute to marital satisfaction including, gender, age, number of years married, privacy preferences, communication skills and others. This research will particularly explore the variables of the number of years married, age, gender, years in host culture and spouse MK status and their effect on marital satisfaction. The results of the study suggest that MKs marital satisfaction partially mirrors their mono-cultural peers. The primary factor that impacts marital satisfaction among MKs is the number of years married.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Neil Richard Gilliland, "An exploratory study on the impact of the missionary kid experience on marital satisfaction" (2001). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3061754.