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Soc 3CC3-Nov 11

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Gail Coulas

Soc 3CC3 – Nov 11 Marital satisfaction doesn’t equal marital stability, and marital stability doesn’t equal marital satisfaction -most people expect that their marriage is a source of great emotional satisfaction, personal security, growth and fulfillment -that it will add to their life -level of adjustment/satisfaction (mean the same thing) -different research has found that newlyweds before the birth of children have a very high quality marriage, HIGH satisfaction, LOW stability -of you’re going to break up, usually happens within the first 3 years -highest rates of divorce happen in first 4 years -when looking at LOW satisfaction in a marriage, often correlates with HIGH stability -stable but unhappy marriages -7-10% of marriages are stable but unhappy -most marriages will go through a number of years where it’s stable but unhappy -stable but unhappy marriages characterized by older age, already invested a lot of time, money and security in this marriage, belief that whether you’re happy or not it is still a lifelong relationship and marriage is still a lifelong commitment, lack of desirable alternatives -you’re not happy in the marriage but there’s nothing else out there -don’t want to lose your kids, don’t want to be alone -dissatisfied doesn’t have to mean its horrible, it may just be neutral -people only make change when there’s something else to go to -lack of desirable alternatives is a key factor in how stable a marriage is - if there is no alternative, that’s a barrier to change so most people will stay -in 1800’s there was no divorce, women would lose their kids, no way to make money, wasn’t any alternatives so you stayed Exchange Theory Two concepts -(CL) comparison level and -(CLalt) comparison level for alternatives you have -CL(comparison level) when you look at your relationship and ask “what is my personal outcome in this relationship compared to what I expected to have” –actual outcome compared to expected -10 years in a marriage you’re thinking “wow I never thought I would have such a good marriage and be this happy and living this life” then you will be very satisfied -if 10 years into a marriage you think “I never thought this illness would happen, that this person would be cool, I never thought we’d be this poor” if they are off and lower than your expectations you are likely to be dissatisfied -less chance that you will leave if you’re satisfied, not going to leave a good thing -if marriage provides lesser than expected outcome, high chance that you will be dissatisfied and will leave that marriage -comparison level for alternative: benefits in current relationships – compared to possible benefits from alternatives -if you’re married to someone who refuses to work to provide and income and is an alcoholic may say “I know my ex boyfriend could provide way better, I think I made a mistake and married the wrong person” -your alternatives look better than what you have so you might dissolve your relationship -if alternative doesn’t look better or if there is no alternative, it’s likely that you will stay in that relationship -women in an abusive relationship may stay because of the perceived negative alternatives that it would have on the kids -my kids will lose relationship with their father, will lose security of the house, will lose financial security and contact with husbands family because they will cut off contact -if he’s abusive to the wife but he’s good to the kids then wife will stay for the kids because what wife has to offer isn’t as good “if I leave kids wont have financial security, wont have contact with family etc” -even though the relationship is abusive, if its good for kids and there’s no other alternatives then chances are wife will stay -but if children become focus of abuse, then alternative no matter what is better “I’m getting out of here so my children wont get hurt, I don’t care if they are poor, atleast they wont be abused” -when you look at a marriage, you look at 1)what you expected to get out of it vs what you have, and 2)you look at what alternatives you have if you leave -a lot of people stay because they cant do that to their partner, “im not in love with them but I still owe them something” -the alternative (leaving) is not okay Lewis and Spanier Widely used model of marital adjustment -how do you adjust to a marriage -how does it go to high rate of marital satisfaction to a stable union -central thesis is that stability of marriage increases as quality of a marriage increases -the happier you are the longer you stay -huge period of marital adjustment, you are continually adjusting to a marriage -you marry someone at 29 and are still with them at 79, you both change a lot so you are continually adjusting to one another -sometimes you don’t change at the same rate -every year for one weekend alain alda has an affair, see how his life changes every 5 years, see that over the 40 years they really change. Last scene is he walks in and his wife is dying, he’s very upset and the woman says she got a letter from his wife and she knew and thanked her cause it was like therapy, that he came back to her and was stable again -went through illnesses, loss of jobs, death of parents, but good or bad they stayed -continually subjectively evaluate our relationship, marital relationship goes along almost same curve as family curve. -high satisfaction and low stability at first, then dips down (period of disenchantment) (often because of children) then goes up again, its U shaped just like family satisfaction -even couples who don’t have children have periods of disenchantmeant at certain points in their life, big U turn -couples have a subjective evaluation, you can measure it and usually is a U shaped satisfaction curve -marital quality relates to marital satisfaction (am I happy? Have we adjusted? Have we integrated our life together?) -stability (the fact that you stay) is a totally separate thing -satisfaction can relate to children -children detract from marital satisfaction -get more satisfaction from being a parent but couple relationship suffers -decrease in couple time, stress with childcare arrangements, economic pressure, kids put pressure on a relationship -marriage is really complex relationship -looked at people longitudinally, looked at group with kids and one group without kids, found that both couples experience similar decline in satisfaction, but couple relationship seemed to be stronger in childless couple than couple with kids, but both had a u-shaped turn -couples with kids satisfaction went a little lower than couples without kids -called this a period of disenchantment -shared leisure time, together time made a positive relationship and you don’t get much of that with kids -childless couples had 7-10 shared leisure activities per week, which increases their satisfaction alone time decreases with kids -presence of children decreases satisfaction but it INCREASES stability -people with kids less likely to leave a marriage, do divorce still but are less likely to -people with kids are more likely when they divorce to look at the alternative -often with kids the issue is money, can’t afford to leave, leaving is not a financial option -but making a lot of money, could easily set up two households because it is possible, could leave without financially hurting kids. Alternatives shift when you have money vs, when you don’t -when looking at this disenchantment, the primary focus shifts -different stages of a marriage there’s different commitment issues -at first you’re always focusing on each other -stop commiting to each other and start committing to the kids -at the end you have to re-commit to each other -when looking at marriage, men are usually more satisfied -when they asked women, it was the failure of their partner to be an equal partner with childcare and housework that caused the greatest dissatisfaction -when kids launch, see a recommitment in marriage and increase in quality -if you can make it past recommitment stage, most people have a good relationship -people leaving at recommitment stage because they found out they both want different things so they divorce -gender role issue -husbands with or without children didn’t differ in how happy they were in their marriage -wives with children were significantly more unhappy than men with children because of failure to divide the work -in marriage each partner expected to bring and receive resources, all marriages are bargains, if they’re perceived as fair it’ll be stable, but if its unfair then the stability will be
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