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Family-of-Origin, Relationship Self-Regulation, and Attachment in Marital Relationships Darin J. Knapp, M.S., LMFT, Kansas State University Aaron M. Norton,

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Presentation on theme: "Family-of-Origin, Relationship Self-Regulation, and Attachment in Marital Relationships Darin J. Knapp, M.S., LMFT, Kansas State University Aaron M. Norton,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Family-of-Origin, Relationship Self-Regulation, and Attachment in Marital Relationships Darin J. Knapp, M.S., LMFT, Kansas State University Aaron M. Norton, Ph.D., LMFT, Texas Woman’s University Jonathan G. Sandberg, Ph.D., LMFT, Brigham Young University (2014) Correspondence:

2 Introduction Family-of-origin (FOO) quality influences romantic relationship formation and experience (Busby et al., 2005; Holman et al., 2001; Whitton et al., 2008) FOO is the context in which: – Relationship maintenance skills begin to develop (Meyer et al., 2012; Roberto- Forman, 2008) – Attachment style and behaviors begin to develop and are primarily practiced (Bowlby, 1958) Relationship Self-Regulation (RSR) is a type of relationship maintenance significant for marital outcomes (Halford et al., 1994; Halford et al., 2007) Attachment has significant impact on marital outcomes (Alexandrov, Cowan, & Cowan, 2005; Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Mikulincer, 1998) RSR has attributes similar to healthy working models of attachment (Halford et al., 1994; Halford et al., 2007; Mikulincer & Shaver, 2003; 2007)

3 RSR Explained – Ability of intimate partners to monitor relational processes and work on maintaining the relationship – Two Components Relationship Strategies & Relationship Effort RSR Looks Like… – Self- and relationship-awareness – Relational goal setting & implementation – Personal evaluation of effort – Examination of relationship improvement RSR use and improvement leads to positive marital outcomes

4 Attachment Behaviors Secure attachment behaviors – increased happiness, friendship, trust, satisfaction Insecure or avoidant attachment behaviors – fear of intimacy, poor emotional regulation, jealousy, distrust, lower affection, increased relationship distress Secure attachment behaviors have shown high potential in mediating family-of-origin experiences and couple communication quality

5 RSR & Attachment RSR’s 2 Components – Relationship Strategies & Relationship Effort Attachment Working Models – Adaptation Strategies – Displays of Effort Behaviors indicating accessibility, engagement, responsiveness Similar elements and themes involved in RSR & Attachment processes

6 Family-of-origin (FOO) – romantic relationship formation experience – relationship maintenance skills begin to develop – attachment style and behaviors begin to develop and are primarily practiced Attachment & RSR both develop within the FOO setting

7 Research Questions What are the relationships between negative FOO experience, RSR, and attachment behaviors in marriage? Does negative FOO predict RSR in marriage? Does attachment behavior mediate the relationship between negative FOO and RSR in marriage?

8 Theoretical Framework: VSA Model (Karney & Bradbury, 1995) Enduring Vulnerabilities Adaptive Processes Stressors Relationship Quality Relationship Stability Negative FOO Experiences Trigger Attachment Response RSR Skills

9 Hypotheses Negative FOO will be positively correlated with RSR for both: – Actor Paths Female Negative FOO  Female RSR Male Negative FOO  Male RSR – Partner Paths Female Negative FOO  Male RSR Male Negative FOO  Female RSR Attachment behaviors will mediate the relationship between negative FOO and RSR for both actor and partner paths – Negative FOO  Attachment Behaviors  RSR

10 METHOD

11 Procedure Secondary data analysis of online RELATionship Evaluation (RELATE) data set Assesses 4 main areas for each partner: individual, couple, family, social Includes self- and partner-reports Sample – N = 261 married heterosexual couples – Age: for both genders – Primarily Caucasian sample – Highly educated and religious sample

12 Negative FOO Experiences Three subscales on 5-point scales (1 = never/rarely to 5 = almost always) Family Quality – Males α =.84; Females α =.90 – Example item: “We had a loving atmosphere in our family” Family Influence – Males α =.82; Females α =.83 – Example Item: “There are matters from my family experience that I’m still having trouble dealing with or coming to terms with” Parental Marriage Quality – Males α =.92; Females α =.93 – Example Item: “I would like my marriage to be like my parents’ marriage”

13 Relationship Self-Regulation (RSR) Two subscales on 5 point scales (1 = never/rarely to 5 = almost always) Relationship Strategies – Males α =.80; Females α =.71 – Example item: “I try to apply ideas about effective relationships to improve our relationship ” Relationship Effort – Males α =.68; Females α =.70 – Example item: “I tend to fall back on what is comfortable for me in relationships, rather than trying new ways of relating”

14 Attachment Behaviors 3 Subscales with 2 questions each on 5 point scales (1 = never/rarely to 5 = almost always) – Accessibility e.g., “it is hard for my partner to get my attention” – Responsiveness e.g., “I listen when my partner shares his/her deepest feelings” – Engagement e.g., “I struggle to feel close and engaged in our relationship” Subscale scores were summed for overall BARE score Items were coded such that a higher BARE score indicated higher presence of secure attachment behaviors

15 Control Variables Age Length of Relationship Controlling for these factors did not change any significance among relationships in the model

16 Analysis Plan 1.Preliminary Analyses – Correlations, Normality, Reliability Estimates, ANOVAs, Confirmatory Factor Analyses for latent variables 2.Structural Equation Modeling – Actor-Partner Interdependence Model

17 RESULTS

18 Actor Partner Interdependence Structural Equation Model Wife Negative FOO Husband Negative FOO Wife RSR Husband RSR Wife Attachment Behaviors Husband Attachment Behaviors *** -.16*** *** -.42***.60***.61*** Model fit indices: χ 2 (45) = 78.05, p <.01; TLI =.96; CFI =.97; RMSEA = 0.05 (C.I – 0.07); SRMR =.05, *p < **p < ***p <

19 DISCUSSION

20 Findings Partners with negative FOO experiences Less likely to report RSR skills Partners with negative FOO experiences Less likely to report secure attachment behaviors Partners with negative FOO experiences Lower levels of RSR Unless also reported more secure attachment behaviors Full mediation

21 Limitations Sample – Motivated couples with internet access and ability to pay – Highly religious, educated group – Racial/Ethnic diversity lacking – Heterosexual married couples only Cross Sectional Analysis Do Secure Attachment Behaviors = Adaptive Processes?

22 Future Research Directions More specific negative FOO categories (i.e., death, divorce, abuse, etc.) Test RSR as a mediating variable between FOO and attachment Use a clinically distressed population Clarify relationship between partner FOO impacting opposite partner’s attachment behaviors and RSR

23 Clinical Implications Intergenerational Therapy – Addresses FOO problems; helps couple relationship maintenance skill Attachment-based Therapy – Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy – Coincides with two parts of RSR (adaptive strategies + effort) – Secure attachment » Leads to warmer emotional climate » Warmer emotional climate leads to higher self-compassion – Self-compassion associated with » motivation to correct relational mistakes » improving problem-solving behaviors » building relationship accommodation behaviors

24 FOO Issues Impacting Relationship (Emerging Vulnerabilities) FOO Issues Impacting Relationship (Emerging Vulnerabilities) Attachment Therapy (e.g., EFT) Increased understanding of roles/cycles (Response to Stressor) Increased understanding of roles/cycles (Response to Stressor) Increased ability to implement RSR skills (Adaptive Processes) Increased ability to implement RSR skills (Adaptive Processes) Increased secure attachment (Response to Stressor) Increased secure attachment (Response to Stressor) Warmer emotional climate Clinical Implications

25 Thank you for attending!


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