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Ch 10 Summary

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Western University
Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Chapter 10- Marriage and Intimate Relationships Challenges to the Traditional Model of Marriage  Marriage is the legally and socially sanctioned union of sexually intimate adults  Social trends that are shaking up the traditional role of marriage: o Increased acceptance of singlehood o Increased acceptance of cohabitation  Cohabitation is living together in a sexually intimate relationship without the legal bonds of marriage o Reduced premium on permanence  Roughly 50% of marriages ultimately end in separation or divorce o Transitions in gender roles  Role expectations for husbands and wives are becoming more varied, more flexible, and more ambiguous o Increased voluntary childlessness o Decline of the traditional nuclear family  Traditional values have eroded as people have increasingly embraced more individualistic values Deciding to Marry  Over 90% of Americans will marry at least once  Up to 80% of world cultures practice arranged marriage o Common in more collectivist cultures  Monogamy is the practice of having only one spouse at a time  Polygamy – having more than one spouse at a time o Common ways of dealing with the pain include accepting that this way of life is God’s will, allocating household chores equally, and maintaining an attitude of respect for the other wives  Endogamy is the tendency for people to marry within their own social group o This behaviour is promoted by cultural norms and by the way similarity fosters interpersonal attraction o Endogamy appears to be declining, this decrease has been gradual o There are no differences between inter-racial couples and same-race couples in terms of relationship quality, conflict patterns, and attachment o Inter-racial couples tend to report higher relationship satisfaction than others, especially partners who feel positive about their own race while being accepting of others  Homogamy is the tendency of people to marry others who have similar personal characteristics o Homogamy is associated with longer-lasting and more satisfying marital relations o Men report believing that women with higher income and education levels than themselves will be less likable and less faithful o Without the freedom to date younger men, women are likely to find their pool of potential partners dwindling more rapidly than men of similar age do  Physical attractiveness, similarity, emotional stability, dependability, honesty, trustworthiness, and a pleasant disposition, are rated highly by both sexes  Women tend to place higher value than men on potential partners’ socio-economic status, intelligence, ambition, and financial prospects  Men consistently show more interest than women in potential partners’ youthfulness and physical attractiveness  Mate selection criteria can be grouped in three major categories: o Warmth/loyalty o Vitality/attractiveness o Status/resources  Women tend to place a greater emphasis on warmth/loyalty and status/resources long term and less of an emphasis on vitality/attractiveness  There are no foolproof predictors of marital success  People whose parents were divorced are more likely than others to experience divorce themselves o May be due in part to how individuals learn to resolve conflicts o Other factors, such as development of insecure attachment styles, might be at play here  Couples who marry young have higher divorce rates  Longer periods of courtship are associated with a greater probability of marital success  Partners’ specific personality traits are not strong predictors of marital success o Two negative predictors of marital success are perfectionism and insecurity o Smiling in photos negatively predicted divorce later in life, which demonstrate the important role of positive emotional dispositions in life  The quality of premarital communication appears to be especially crucial o The more that prospective mates are negative, sarcastic, insulting, and unsupportive during courtship, the greater the likelihood of marital distress and divorce o Being understood and validated in conversation is strongly related to satisfaction  Stressful situations surrounding a marriage (unemployment, chronic illness, caregiving for an aging parent) can cause conflict, increase distress, and harm marital stability o One exception to the stress-distress link is the stress related to becoming new parents Marital Adjustment Across the Family Life Cycle  Family life cycle- an orderly sequence of developmental stages that families tend to progress through  Marital problems are similar whether a couple are newly married, have young children, or have been married for many years Between Families: The Unattached Young Adult  As young adults become independent of their parents, they go through a transitional period during which they are “between families” until they form a new family through marriage Joining Together: The Newly Married Couple  The early years of marriage are often marred by numerous problems and disagreements  Most commonly reported problems are balancing work and marriage and financial concerns  This stage tends to by characterized by great happiness- the proverbial “marital bliss”  Struggling to decide whether to have children o Adult participants over a span of six years, about one-quarter of the respondents changed their plans o Voluntarily childless women tend to have higher incomes and more experience than other women o Voluntary childlessness is becoming more common, but such couples are still in the minority o That vast majority of parents rate parenthood as a positive and satisfying experience and report no regret about their choice o Most voluntarily childless couples do not regret their decision Family with Young Children  Transition to parenthood tends to have more impact on mothers than fathers o Prone to postpartum distress, about 10-13% of new moms experience depression within the first 12 weeks after birth  The transition to parenthood is more difficult when a mother’s expectations regarding how much the father will be involved in child care are not met  Parents exhibit lower marital satisfaction than comparable nonparents  Mothers of infants report the steepest decline in marital satisfaction  The more children couples have, the lower their marital satisfaction tends to be  Involvement in and satisfaction with parenting tends to be higher when marital quality is higher  Divorce rates are clearly higher for those who remain childless Family with Adolescent Children  Adolescence is not as turbulent or difficult as once believed  As adolescent children seek to establish their own identities, parental influence tends to decline while the influence of peer groups tends to increase o Conflicts between adolescent children and their parents tend to involve everyday matters such as chores and dress more than substantive issues such as sex and drugs o Conflict is particularly likely to surface between adolescents (of both sexes) and their mothers o Report less conflict with their second adolescent child than their first  Middle-aged couples often worry about the care of their aging parents – sandwich generation o Today’s average married couple has more parents than children, and an increasing number of adults provide care to their aging parents o Females tend to assume most of the responsibility for elderly relatives o The number of hours spent caring for an aging parent was correlated with wives’ psychological distress Launching Children into the Adult World  Conflict subsides and parent-child relations become closer and more supportive  Approximately 40% of young adults will return to live with their parents at some point, typically for one to two years o Young adults who come home after living independently have been characterized as the boomerang generation o Children from intact, two-parent homes are more likely to return than are those with stepparents o Young adults have more negative attitudes about returning home than their parents do o Modest negative impact on parent-child relations  Most parents adjust effectively to the empty nest transition, and the empty nest is associated with improved mood and well-being for most mothers  Most parents are more likely to have problems if their children return to the once- empty nest, especially if these returns are frequent Family in Later Life  Marital satisfaction tends to climb in the postparental period as couples find they have more time to devote attention to each other  Older couples rate children or grandchildren, good memories, and traveling together as the top three sources of pleasure  The three most commonly reported problems in late-life marriages are disagreements or disappointments about leisure activities, intimacy, and finances o Men are more likely to be disappointed about financial matters, whereas women are more likely to be disappointed about personal habits and health matters Vulnerable Areas in Marital Adjustment  Successful marriages depend on couples’ ability to handle their problems  Gaps between partners in their role expectations can have a negative effect on couples’ marital satisfaction  Modern couples need to negotiate and renegotiate role responsibilities throughout the family life cycle  Husbands’ careers continue to take priority over their wives’ ambitions  Even when both spouses are employed, many husbands maintain traditional role expectations about housework, child care, and decision making o Wives are still doing the bulk of the household chores in America, even when they work outside the home o Wives take responsibility for about 65% of total housework o Wives still account for 78% of the essential “core housework” such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry  Women are more likely to perceive their share of housework as unfair when they have non-traditional attitudes about gender roles and when they work outside the home  Men who have lived independently for a longer period of time are more egalitarian in their views about housework and gender than are hose who have had less of an independent “bachelor-hood”  It is imperative that couples discuss role expectations in depth before marriage  Individuals’ job satisfaction and involvement can affect their own marital satisfaction, their partners’ marital satisfaction, and their children’s development  Both husbands and wives struggle to balance the demands of work and family, and for both, work-family conflict is associated with reduced life satisfaction and quality of marriage o Studies find that spouses’ stress at work can have a substantial negative effect on their marital and family interactions o The stress associated with working night shifts appears to be especially tough on spouses and families, as does the experience of jobs that require travel  Negative work-to-family spillover seems to be more common for mothers than for fathers and is especially problematic when preschool children are involved o Family conflict is related to increase work stress for women  In the long run, multiple roles are beneficial for both men and women o Negative effects of stress in one role can be buffered by success and satisfaction in another role o Multiple roles can increase sources of social support and opportunities to experience success  Although many Americans seem to believe that maternal employment is detrimental to children’s development, the vast majority of empirical studies have found little evidence that a mother’s working is harmful to her children o Studies generally have not found a link between mothers’ employment status and the quality of infant-mother emotional attachment or in children’s achievement o Maternal employment is related to decreased hyper-activity, lower levels of anxiety, and increased prosocial behaviour at age 4 o While maternal employment doesn’t eliminate poverty, it does mean that fewer children are raised in poverty o Any benefits of maternal employment might also come at the cost of fewer positive interactions between the mother and child  Financial difficulties can cause stress in a marriage o Spontaneity in communication may be impaired by an understandable reluctance to talk about financial concerns  Husbands’ job insecurity is predictive of wives’ reports of marital conflict and their thoughts of divorce o Evidence consistently demonstrates that the risk of separation and divorce increases as husbands’ income declines  Quarrels about how to spend money are common and are potentially damaging at all income levels  Happy couples engaged in more joint decision making on finances  Communication is a highly ranked source of conflict for long-term married couples  Because the ability to communicate emotions is associated with better marital adjustment, couples need to feel safe discussing conflict  Unhappily married couples: o Find it difficult to convey positive messages o Misunderstand each other more often o Are less likely to recognize that they have been misunderstood o Use more frequent, and more intense, negative messages o Often differ in the amount of self-disclosure they prefer in the relationship  Unhappy couples tend to get caught up in escalating cycles of conflict from which they cannot escape, whereas happy couples find ways to exit the cycles  Conflict and anger are normal in marital interactions and they are not, in and of themselves, predictive of marital dissolution  Risk factors for divorce: o Contempt involves communicating insulting feelings that one’s spouse is inferior o Criticism involves constantly expressing negative evaluations of one’s partner o Defensiveness refers to responding to contempt and criticism by invalidating, refuting, or denying the partner’s statements o Stonewalling is refusing to listen to one’s partner, especially the partner’s complaints o Belligerence involves provocative, combative challenges to partners’ power and authority Divorce  Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage  Some couples will tolerate a great deal of disappointment and bickering without seriously considering divorce  Divorce is the culmination of a gradual disintegration of the relationship brought about by an accumulation of interrelated problems, which often date back to the beginning of a couple`s relationship  Modest reductions in divorce rates in recent years appear to have lowered the risk of divorce to 40-45% for today’s couples o The decline in divorce rates is encouraging, but the chance of marital dissolution remain quite high  Divorce rates are higher among blacks than whites or Hispanics, among lower-income couples, among couples who cohabitated, among couples who do not have children, among people who marry at a relatively young age, and among those whose parents divorced  The vast majority of divorces occur during the first decade of a marriage  Most frequently cited problems include communication difficulties, infidelity, jealousy, growing apart, foolish spending behaviour, and substance abuse problems  The stigma attached to divorce has gradually eroded o The shrinking of families probably makes divorce a more viable possibility o The entry of more women into the workforce o New attitudes emphasizing individual fulfillment o Legal barriers to divorce have also diminished  Roughly two out of five divorce petitions are eventuall
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