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PSYCH 354 (3)
Chapter 13

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University of Waterloo
Daniel Nadolny

Chapter 13: The Dissolution and Loss of Relationships The Changing Rate of Divorce The prevalence of divorce - High divorce rates ○ Suggests that despite all the good intentions and warm feelings with which people marry, the chances that they will succeed in living out their lives together are about the same as chance of getting heads when you flip a coin - Marriages are much less likely to end than other romantic relationships are but they’re also less likely to last than they used to be Why has the divorce rate increased? - Possibilities ○ We hold different, more demanding expectations for marriage than people used to ○ Cohabitation is widespread, marriage is no longer the practical necessity it used to be ○ People are more likely than ever before to pursue marriage as a path to personal fulfillment - For some, marriage is supposed to be play ○ Exciting, not routine, and passionate, not warm - Women entering into the workforce has several effects ○ Spouses report more conflict between work and family than they used to ▪ The more hours a wife works, lower the quality of her marriage tend to be ▪ The amount of time spouses spend together tends to decline ▪ Increases spouses’ access to interesting, desirable alternatives ○ Women earn more money than they used to ▪ Divorce rates higher when women are financially independent of men ▪ Those that are able to support themselves have more freedom ▪ Couples with money trouble are less content with their marriages ○ Couples with lower incomes are twice as likely to divorce as are couples with higher incomes - Gender roles, behaviour we expect from men and women ○ Women, becoming more instrumental and assertive, and self-reliant ○ Less traditional gender roles higher marital quality - Western cultures ○ More individualistic, people being less connected to the others around them than they used to be ○ Receive less social support and companionship from friend and acquaintances and rely on our spouses for more ▪ Those that are less connected to their communities are less affected by community norms that they might discourage them from divorcing - Shared perceptions of divorce are less negative ○ No-fault divorce laws in the U.S. made a divorce much easier to obtain ▪ Helped make the procedure more socially acceptable ○ More favourable view, reduce the quality of our marriages over time - Cohabitation ○ Cohabit before they become engages are more likely to later divorce ○ Changes their beliefs and expectations about marriage ○ Leads to less respect for the institution of marriage, less favourable expectations of marriage and increased wiliness to divorce - Broken homes, divorced parents ○ Children who experience the divorce of their parents are more likely to be divorced themselves ○ Have less favourable views of marriage, report less trust in their partners ○ Have less faith in that their marriage will last - Individualism and social mobility leave us less tied to community norms that discourage divorce The Predictors of Divorce Levinger’s Barrier Model - Three types of factors that influence the breakup of relationships ○ Attraction ▪ Enhanced by the rewards a relationship offers (ex. Sexual fulfillment, security) and diminished by its costs (ex. Investment of time and energy) ○ Alternatives ○ Barriers around the relationship that make it hard to leave ▪ Ex. Legal and social pressures to remain married, religious and moral constraints - Levinger argued that many barriers to divorce are psychological rather than material ○ May certainly stay married because they do not have enough money but may also stay together because of the guilt or embarrassment they would feel Karney and Bradbury’s vulnerability-stress-adaptation model - According to their view, some people enter marriage with enduring vulnerabilities that increase their risk of divorce ○ Including adverse experiences in one’s family of origin, poor education, maladaptive personality traits, bad social skills, or dysfunctional attitudes toward marriage ○ Can shape the circumstances a couple encounters and influence the adaptive processes with which people respond to stress - When stressful events occur, couples much cope and adapt, but depending on their vulnerabilities, some are better able to do that than others ○ Poor coping causes marital quality to decline ○ Extended periods of dissatisfaction are presumed to lead to marital instability and divorce - Past experiences and inborn traits equip all of us with strengths and weaknesses as relationship partners ○ Weaknesses are vulnerabilities that undermine our abilities to cope effectively with stress and change ○ Stress spillover, in which we bring surly moods home and interact irascibly with our innocent partners ▪ Each partner’s ability to adapt successfully influences the quality of their marriage at the same time that marital quality is influencing the partners’ abilities to adapt - Quality of marriages emerges from the interplay of who we are, the circumstances we encounter and the manner in which we respond Results from the PAIR projects - Focused on the manner in which spouse adapt to their lives together, known as the Processes of Adaptation in Intimate Relationships (PAIR) - Three explanations for why marriages go awry ○ Enduring dynamics model ▪ Spouses who are destined to be discontent begin their marriages being less in love and more at odds ▪ Suggests that spouses bring to their marriages problems, incompatibilities and enduring vulnerabilities ▪ Partners are usually aware of these frustrations an shortcomings before they even wed ▪ Marriages that are headed for divorce are weaker than others from the very beginning ○ Emergent
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