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Chapter 10

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Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Chapter 10: Marriage and Intimate Relationships Marriage Legally and socially sanctioned union of sexually intimate adults  Includes common residence, economic interdependence, sexual fidelity and shared responsibility for children  Shifting social trends; believe that the institution of marriage will “weather the storm”  Examples - Increased acceptance of singlehood  longer postponement of marriage; remaining single is not more socially accepted - Increased acceptance of cohabitation  increased prevalence; more than married couples; increasingly include children - Reduced premium on permanence  increasing number of people divorce is marriage does not promote their individual interests; stigma associated with divorced has lessened - Transitions in gender roles more married women in the workforce; role expectations more flexible; which may create conflict - Increased voluntary childlessness  due to new career opportunities for women, tendency to marry later and changing attitudes - Decline of the traditional nuclear family  increasing prevalence of single parent households, step families, childless marriages, unwed parents and working wives Deciding to Marry  Socialized to believe that life isn’t complete until married Cultural Influences  Modern western cultures permit free choice of marital partners  Many societies rely on parental arrangements and restrict the range of acceptable partners along religious and class lines  Arranged marriages are common in collectivist cultures; although prevalence is declining due to westernization  People in collectivist cultures weigh the impact the marriage will have on their family Selecting a Mate  Monogamy practice of having only one spouse at a time; this is the norm and the law  Polygamy having more than one spouse at a time; typically associated with the Mormon religion; painful for wives; associated with societies where women have little to no independence, education or power  Endogamy tendency for people to marry within their own social group (race, religion, ethnic background and social class); interracial couples report higher relationship satisfaction, especially partners who feel positive about their own race and they are accepting of others  Homogamy tendency for people to marry others that have similar personal characteristics (age, education, attractiveness, attitudes and values, marital history); is associated with longer lasting and more satisfying marital and dating relations  Deviations from homogamy so not tend to be symmetrical; as husbands are usually older and better educated; believe that women with more education and income will be less likable and faithful  Traits such as attractiveness, honesty, trustworthiness, similarity, emotional stability, dependability and a pleasant disposition are rated as important by both sexes  Women place higher value on socioeconomic status, intelligence, ambition and financial prospects  Men show more interest in youthfulness and physical attractiveness  3 major categories of mate selection 1. Warmth/Loyalty (women emphasize) 2. Vitality Attractiveness (Men emphasize) 3. Status/ Resources (women emphasize) Predictors of Marital Success  Family Background - Marital satisfaction of parents - Parents are divorced kids more likely to be divorced - Intergenerational divorce cycle may be due to the fact that individuals learn to resolve conflicts from their parents  Age - Couples who marry young have higher divorce rates - People who marry later have more carefully selected their mate; and are less likely to undergo dramatic personal change - As more couples choose to marry later in life; it is predicted that divorce rates will decrease  Length of Courtship - Longer courtship= greater probability of success - Allow couples to evaluate their compatibility more accurately - May be because people who are cautious about marriage have attitudes that promote stability  Personality - Not a strong predictor of marital success - Except; perfectionism and insecurity are negative predictors of marital success - Intensity of smiling in pictures resulted in a lower likelihood of divorce - Important role of positive emotional dispositions  Premarital Communication - Degree to which couples get along in courtship is predictive of marital adjustment - Being understood and validated in conversation is strongly related to satisfaction - Positive emotional exchanges serve as foundation  Stressful Events - Unemployment, chronic illness, caregiving for an aging parents etc. - Increase distress and harm marital stability - High levels of external stress lead to high levels of stress in close relationships - Stress from work can spill over to mood at home - The exception is the stress related to becoming parents Marital Adjustment Across the Family Life Cycle Family Life Cycle  an orderly sequence of developmental stages that families tend to progress through  Not all families progress through the life cycle in a orderly fashion  Variations are associated with remaining childless, or divorce Between Families  Young adults are “between families” until they form a new family through marriage; more and more people are prolonging the stage  Between families stage is extended through the availability of new career options for women, increased educational requirements in the world of work and increased emphasis on personal autonomy and positive attitudes about remaining single Joining Together  Newly married couples report problems relating to financial concerns and balancing work and marriage; but are generally in “marital bliss”  Satisfaction tends to be high before arrival of first child  Pre children stage used to be short  Uncertainty about having children has increased  Decision to remain childless often occurs after numerous postponements  Intentions about having children are not always stable over time  Childless women tend to have higher income and more work experience  Voluntary childlessness is more common; but still the minority  Children create a sense of purpose and satisfaction  Majority of parents rate parenthood as a positive and satisfying experience  Most voluntarily childless couples don’t regret their decision Young Children  Transition to parenthood tend to have more impact on mothers than fathers  New mothers are prone to post partum distress and depression can lead to martial dissatisfaction  Transition to parenthood is more difficult when mothers expectations regarding how much the father will be involved are not met  Research on parenthood found that - Parents exhibit lower marital satisfaction that 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  Couples with high affection and commitment tend to maintain stable satisfaction after child’s birth  Realistic expectations about parental responsibilities make transition less stressful  Stress is greatest in parents who overestimated the benefits and underestimated the costs  Divorce rates are higher for those who remain childless Adolescent Children  Problematic relationships between parents and teens are the exception rather than the rule  Parents influence adolescents important decisions such as education and career  Peers influence less critical matters such as style  Conflicts between parents and adolescents tend to be over smaller everyday matters  Middle aged couples also have to worry about their aging parents  May expect to spend more years caring for aging parents that dependent children  Multigenerational caregiving responsibilities can lead to burnout Launching Children  When progressing children often leave and return; come home after leaving  Crisis may lead children back to their home  “Boomerang generation”  young adults who come home after living independently  Living with parents during adulthood can have a modest negative effect on their relationship  Empty nest is associated with improved mood and well being for most mothers  Middle aged parents are more happy if they have launched their children  Marital satisfaction tends to climb in the post parental period  Spouses have to adapt to spending more time with each other  Increased likelihood of illness can make later years more stressful Vulnerable Areas in Marital Adjustment  During courtship couples focus on pleasurable activities  Martial conflict can result in alcoholism, depression, physical health problems, domestic violence and divorce Gaps in Role E
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