Relationships and Roles
The Changing Landscape of Marriage
Throughout history: Marriage was often based on practical concerns
Arranged by families with the focus not on love
Marriage affected by shorter life expectancies
Marriage possibly only lasting one or two decades (20 years).
Mid 20 century (1950s): Marriage in 20s with the expectation of maintaining the
relationship for a half-century.
Othen based on traditional gender roles the norm (see photo)
Late 20 century: Marriage is significantly redefined.
Marriage was deinstitutionalized–transformed from the standard adult “institution”
to more of a focus on personal choices.
Women’s movement had significant impact in redefining marriage.
Focus on more equality in relationships and roles.
Focus on personal choices affected divorce rate
Caused significant increase
More choices of living alone or cohabitation
Rise in single parents
Less stigma attached to having children prior to marriage.
“shotgun” marriage a thing of the past
Recent studies indicated that parents are less embarrassed with children outside of
The American Dream: a happy marriage
Despite high divorce rates, young people still want to marry.
8 out of 10 young Americans report they want to marry.
Although the desire may be marriage, more consideration is given to certain fundamentals:
Sense of identify established
Marital Pathway: Downhill and Then Up
• Happiness is at its peak during the Honeymoon.
• Satisfaction rapidly slopes downward, and then tends to decline more slowly or level out
around year 4.
• If a couple can get past the first 4 years, they have passed the main divorce danger zone. The u-shaped curve of martial satisfaction
Marriage affected by work and children
First child reaching puberty causes more stress to relationship as parents deal with child’s
Positive change occurs with empty nest
Happiness increases when children leave.
Many empty-nest couples reconnect when they are suddenly “just the two of us”
Elderly couples fight less as they focus on the end of precious life moments together.
Triangular Model of Love
Love consists of three major components forming the three points of a triangle:
Seven Love Types
Intimacy (alone) = Liking
Passion (alone) = Infatuation (A Crush)
Commitment (alone) = Empty Love
Intimacy + Passion = Romantic Love
Intimacy + Commitment = Companionate Love
Passion + Commitment = Fatuous Love
Intimacy + Passion + Commitment = Consummate Love
Keeping Passion and Intimacy Alive
• Roughly 1 in 10 couples stay passionate for decades.
• Realize that keeping passion and intimacy takes work. • Regularly engage in exciting activities that both partners enjoy.
Good Marital Communications in Happy Couples
• Have a higher ratio of positive to negative comments.
Caring, loving comments should outweigh negative comments by a ratio of
5 to 1.
• Never get personally hurtful when they disagree.
Unhappy couples personalize their conflicts, often using put -downs and sarcasm.
Couples should problem solve.
Do not engage in repeated demand-withdrawal interactions.
One partner attempts to connect emotionally while the other flees from
closeness or problem solving.
Commitment as the key to success
• Being dedicated to the relationship
• Sacrificing some personal wants for partner’s joy
• Sacrificing must be reciprocal.
• Forgiveness is key.
Facts about Divorce
• Most weigh the costs vs. the benefits.
• Finances are typically a concern. (Can I support my family financially?)
• How will the divorce affect the children?
• Communication problems tend to be the most cited cause of divorce.
• While other problems can exist, an extra-marital affair may push couples toward divorce.
Two out of three people report having had an affair around the time their relationship
began to break up.
Longitudinal Outcomes of Divorce:
People in very unhappy marriages prior to their divorce felt much better after divorcing.
Relatively satisfied couple who divorced thinking their relationship had become stale or
unfulfilling reported declines in well-being.