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Marital Transitions: Marriage, Parenthood, Divorce Lecture 11/15/04.

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Presentation on theme: "Marital Transitions: Marriage, Parenthood, Divorce Lecture 11/15/04."— Presentation transcript:

1 Marital Transitions: Marriage, Parenthood, Divorce Lecture 11/15/04

2 Cultural Differences in Marriage African Americans wait longer and are less likely to marry or remarry. African Americans are more likely to separate and divorce and to remain separated without divorce. 38% of white children experience parental separation or divorce by age 16; almost 74% of African American children experience this by age 16.

3 Marital Transitions & Happiness Set Points I According to adaptation theory / hedonic treadmill theory (Brickman & Campbell, 1971), subjective well-being (SWB) is stable.  Individuals adapt to extreme (+) and (-) circumstances  Objective circumstances account for little variance  Personality and genetic factors Q: do levels of life satisfaction return to baseline after marital events across 15 years?

4 Marital Transitions & Happiness Set Points II Marriage, widowhood and divorce are among the most stressful life events. The relation between marriage and higher SWB is robust, though it may explain little variance.  Selection – few adaptation effects from marital transitions  Social role explanations – additional hardships (divorce / widowhood) account for SWB differences (little change)  Crisis or event explanation – with adaptation, SWB returns to previous levels Importance of individual differences.

5 Marital Transitions & Happiness Set Points III One event only in the GSOEP; marriage and widowhood only (divorce not long-term). People have baseline levels of satisfaction above the midpoint.

6 Transition to Marriage I People who became and stayed married started the GSOEP with higher SWB.  LS increases 1-year before marriage  Marriage has a (+) w/in S association with LS  Lots of individual differences In the reactivity and adaptation model, inds vary greatly in substantial (+) and (-) changes in satisfaction after marriage.  One’s initial reaction predicts adaptation (80%)  Little change, on average!

7 Transition to Widowhood A significant drop in satisfaction in the year preceding widowhood and during widowhood.  Substantial variability Significantly lower life satisfaction during reaction and adaptation phases. Significant variability in adaptation, related to one’s initial reaction (8 years out closest to complete). Some individuals don’t adapt to widowhood. Long-lasting effects!

8 Marital Transition People’s life satisfaction changes with important social events, and then individuals adapt over time. Long-term levels of SWB not solely determined by personality and genetics. Selection and event or crisis models of marital transitions supported; role transition theory supported only for widowhood. Less btwen-S variance than w/in-S variance in life satisfaction due to marital transitions. The most satisfied people reacted least (+) to marriage and most (-) to divorce & widowhood.

9 Transition to Parenthood: Dimensions of Adult Attachment Avoidance: assesses the desire to limit intimacy and maintain psychological and emotional independence from significant others. Anxiety or ambivalence: assesses the concern that relationship partners might not be available or supportive when needed. Secure: comfort with dependence and intimacy; no worries about being abandoned or unsupported.

10 Transition to Parenthood I Associated with downturns in marital satisfaction for many couples. Associated with increased conflict and reductions in companionate activity. Variability! Marital satisfaction tends to be affected more adversely in women than men (Belsky & Pensky, 1988)

11 Transition to Parenthood: Women More ambivalent women should perceive less support from their husbands than should less ambivalent women.  Experience significant declines in support from Time 1 to Time 2  Less satisfied with their marriage  Seek less support from their spouse  Perceive themselves as the target of greater anger from husbands Moderated by perceptions of spousal support. Highly avoidant wives will report less support seeking than less avoidant wives.

12 Transition to Parenthood: Men Men who are romantically involved with highly ambivalent women tend to be very dissatisfied with their relationship.  Report providing more support than wife perceives  Report behaving more angrily toward wife  View wife as having more negative attributes  More dissatisfied with their marriage Men involved with highly avoidant partners also tend to be less satisfied.

13 Transition to Parenthood: Results I Both wives and husbands reported declines in marital satisfaction.  Wives perceived less support and greater anger from husbands and sought less support (trend)  Husbands reported providing less support Higher levels of ambivalence were associated with higher levels of avoidance, with husbands’ and wives’ avoidance scores positively associated.

14 Transition to Parenthood: Results II Women’s ambivalence and prenatal perceptions of spousal support interact to predict marital functioning during the transition to parenthood for both wives and husbands.  Wives reported large declines in spousal support, support seeking, and marital satisfaction  Highly ambivalent women who perceived lower prenatal support experienced the largest declines in satisfaction Interaction also predicted declines in husband’s marital satisfaction and support giving, and increases in anger. Wives’ perceptions mediated husband’s transition.

15 Transition to Parenthood: Results III Highly ambivalent wives who perceived high levels of support before childbirth reported comparatively good marital functioning at Time 2. Correlations between ambivalence and marital measures were stronger in the postbirth period.  This was not true for correlations with avoidance! In this situation, avoidance worked. Men married to more ambivalent women reported that they were less supportive and behaved more angrily.

16 Divorce Statistics 1996 data: over 45% of marriages in the US end in divorce. Following divorce, 84% of children live with mothers in a single-parent home. 65% of women remarry. 75% of men remarry. Rates of cohabitation are high in divorced individuals who do not remarry. Divorce rates are higher in remarriages.

17 Divorce: Impact on Children I Many children experience problems in the months following parental divorce. Greatest effects in:  Externalizing disorders  Lack of self-regulation  Low social responsibility  Diminished cognitive agency and achievement The most adverse consequences in adjustment are experienced by children exposed to multiple marital transitions.

18 Divorce: Impact on Children II On average, children of divorced parents are less socially, emotionally and academically well- adjusted. Problems diminish with time as the family restabilizes, BUT Problems can emerge or re-emerge later in development

19 Divorce: Impact on Emerging Adults Less likely to have attended or completed college. More likely to be unemployed and on welfare. More likely to have fewer financial resources. More likely to have problems in relationships with parents and siblings. More likely to have problems in forming and maintaining other stable relationships, including marital relationships.

20 Predictors of Vulnerability and Resilience Adolescent girls may experience more difficulties than boys:  Behavior problems  Educational attainment  Well-being OR, girls may show exceptional competence under moderate stress and in the presence of a caring adult. Father involvement reduces negative consequences.

21 Predictors of Vulnerability and Resilience: Personality Factors Better adjustment in the context of:  Intelligence  Competence  Easy temperament  High self-esteem  Internal locus of control  Good sense of humor

22 Parenting After Divorce The family environment plays a central role in the responses of children to divorce. The parenting of divorced parents, on average, remains less authoritative than that of non-divorced parents. Noncustodial mothers are more likely to establish and maintain contact with their children, and make other modifications, than are noncustodial fathers. Children adjust better in a harmonious single- parent household than in an acrimonious two- parent household.

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