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Chapter 12

SOC375 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Married People, Communication Problems, Emotion Work

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Kwame Boadu

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Chapter 12- Family Life
- Research shows that older people keep in contact with their families, that they turn to family members for help when they
need it, and that they themselves provide support to family members
Marital Status in Later Life
- Life course perspective helps explain dynamic nature of family life and social relations
o Shows how events and conditions that occur early in life affect roles and relationships in later life
Normative events (ex. grandparenthood, widowhood) vs. non-normative events
Divorce less predictable and affects fewer people
o Sees family life as a scene of both stability and change
- Chages i arital status ofte lead to a hage i a perso’s soial status ad soial etorks
- What happens to a person earlier in life affects their roles and relationships later in life (marriage, divorce, children,
- Nearly all Canadians will marry at least once in their lifetime
- In 2011, 72.1% of senior men and 43.8% of senior women lived in a couple
o Men more likely to be married in later life than women
o Men tend to marry younger women and women are more likely to be widowed
- More than 60% of those who marry stay married to the same person and celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary (Clark &
Compton, 2006)
- Women who work outside the home when their spouse has retired tend to report lower marital satisfaction than retired
women with a retired spouse
- Married older adults have some advantages over their unmarried peers:
1. More financial resources
2. Higher life satisfaction and greater well-being and happiness
3. Adjust better to aging provides a sense of security and emotional stability
Marriage is linked to longer life and better health, especially for men
Married parters a oitor eah other’s health
Helps reduce loneliness and provides social support
4. Less likely to live in an institution have someone to care for them
Ideally, gives a person a live-in support system older married people tend to rely on each other more
than on outside social supports
5. Experience better mental health and cognitive function
Marriage may even help prevent mental decline
- Satisfaction in marriage tends to be higher for those recently married and those in long-term marriages tends to be lower
among those in their child-rearing years (U curve)
- Most couples in long-term marriages report high life satisfaction kids grown and out of the house, married couples can
enjoy their time together
- But, not all couples are happy many face challenges/disappointments
o When is a marriage not so good in later years?
Continuing fighting, abuse, and bickering
Disagreements over household concerns (ex. where to live, home repairs)
Health problems and stress of caregiving
**Most common issues (Henry, Miller, & Giarusso, 2005):
Leisure activities lak of sharig or iterest i the other’s hoies ad atiities; trael
disagreements; disappointment with the lack of quality time together
Intimacy (physical and emotional) roadblocks to physical intimacy due to changes in sexual
desires or disagreements over sexual practices; communication problems
Financial matters disagreements over spending habits
o Men and women report about the same number of challenges in their marriages, but report different challenges
Men more often reported financial issues
Men, more often than women, reported no problems with their marriage
o Dissatisfaction can lead to illness and depression
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Common-Law Unions
- In 2011, 6% of Canadians aged 65 and older with a spouse or partner lived in a common-law relationship
o The number of people in Canada choosing to live in a common-law relationship has increased over the past two
decades and this is reflected in older couples as well
Although more younger people live in common-law relationships than older people
- Increase explained by more baby boomers; it’s more socially accepted, continued common-law relationship over time
aged i plae i those relatioships; relationships following separation, divorce or widowhood; and better financial
- Eligible (those available on the marriage market): single, divorced, widowed
- LAT (living apart together) couples- have a committed relationship but maintain separate households
o Many are aged 50+
o Independence, autonomy, freedom, have own home, be with other people who are important in their life are
some of the reasons
o Woe do’t at to keep doig the duties the perfored durig their arriage
- Divorce rates have increased significantly since the early 1970s due to liberalization of divorce laws
- 38% of married couples can expect to divorce before their 30th anniversary
- In 2006, about 7% of men and 7% of women aged 65+ were divorced (Statistics Canada, 2006f)
- Divorce rates are also increasing among older people represents a shift toward greater acceptance of divorce among
older people
o Often because marriage can no longer support their changing roles, needs, or desires
o Some reasons for divorce are the same as for younger people (ex. abuse, addictions, and infidelity)
- Most people who divorce in later life do not remarry (remarriage is higher among men)
- Divorce in late life has implications on financial status, mental health, and family life
- Remarriage in late life is not common, especially for women or widowed older people
o More likely to occur for men and for divorced older adults
o Widowed women often disinclined to remarry because of the loss of freedom, increased domestic chores, and
potential spousal care in the future
- Motivations to remarry include loneliness (particularly for men) and financial security (particularly for women)
- Women often report better 2nd marriages, while men have a hard time making this comparison
- Factors contributing to the satisfying 2nd-marriage experience for older women:
o Greater maturity of these women and the insights they gained from their first marriage helped them select a more
compatible partner
o Without child-rearing responsibilities, have more time to invest in their relationship
o Women felt more sexual freedom with second or third husbands possibly due to increased confidence (acquired
through age and experience) to express their sexual needs/desires
Lifelong Singlehood
- Small proportion of older people have never married 5.3% of older men and 5.5% of older women
o Proportion of old singles increases with age may reflect the different social and historical conditions that people
in each of these older age groups lived through (ex. coming of age during WWII)
- Most sa the eer arried eause the had’t et the right person, not because of personal shortcomings
- Singles have made unique adaptations to aging
o Play vital and supportive roles in the lives of siblings, older parents, etc.
o Form friendships and other social relationships to provide themselves with supporters, companions, etc.
Never-married older people, compared with married and widowed people, tend to rely more on siblings
and friends for social support and have strong relationships with family members
- Overall, never-married people lead active lives and feel happy, are in good health, and feel satisfied with their
lives/standard of living
- Never-married older women fare better than men more satisfied and have more emotional support
o Women see their independence, their ability to control their finances, and their freedom to arrange their own
social activities as benefits
- Although, they do report more loneliness than married seniors (but report feeling less lonely than divorced and widowed
older people)
- Do use more formal supports than married seniors
find more resources at oneclass.com
find more resources at oneclass.com
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