The Transmission of Marital Instability across Generations: Relationship Skills or Commitment to Marriage?

Article excerpt

We used national, longitudinal data from 2 generations to assess 2 explanations for the intergenerational transmission of marital instability, one based on relationship skills and the other based on marital commitment. Parental divorce approximately doubled the odds that offspring would see their own marriages end in divorce. Offspring with maritally distressed parents who remained continuously married did not have an elevated risk of divorce. Divorce was most likely to be transmitted across generations if parents reported a low, rather than a high, level of discord prior to marital dissolution. These results, combined with other findings from the study, suggest that offspring with divorced parents have an elevated risk of seeing their own marriages end in divorce because they hold a comparatively weak commitment to the norm of lifelong marriage.

Key Words: divorce, intergenerational transmission of divorce, marital commitment, marital conflict, marital instability, relationship skills.

[Reference]

REFERENCES

[Reference]

Allison, P D. (1984). Event history analysis: Regression for longitudinal data. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Amato, P R. (1996). Explaining the intergenerational transmission of divorce. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58,628-640.

Amato, P. R., & Booth, A. (1991). The consequences of divorce for attitudes toward divorce and gender roles. Journal of Family Issues, 12, 306-322.

Amato, P. R., & Booth, A. (1997). A generation at risk: Growing up in an era of family upheaval. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Amato, P R., & Rogers, S. J. (1997). A longitudinal study of marital problems and subsequent divorce. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 59, 612-624.

Belsky, J., & Isabella, R. A. (1985). Marital and parentchild relationship in family of origin and marital change following the birth of a baby: A retrospective analysis. Child Development, 56, 342-349.

Booth, A., Amato, P. R., Johnson, D. R., & Edwards, J. N. (1998). Marital instability over the life course: Methodology report for fifth wave. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Bureau of Sociological Research.

Booth, A., & Edwards, J. N. (1990). Transmission of marital and family quality over the generations: The effects of parental divorce and unhappiness. Journal of Divorce, 13, 41-58.

Booth, A., Johnson, D. R., White, L. K., & Edwards, J. N. (1985). Predicting divorce and permanent separation. Journal of Family Issues, 6, 331-346.

Bumpass, L. L., Martin, T C., & Sweet, J. A. (1991). The impact of family background and early marital factors on marital disruption. Journal of Family Issues, 12. 22-42.

[Reference]

Call, V. R. A., & Heaton, T B. (1997). Religious influences on marital stability. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 36, 382-392.

Capaldi, D. M., & Patterson, J. R. (1991). The relation of parental transitions to boys' adjustment problems: I. A linear hypothesis; II. Mothers at risk for transitions and unskilled parenting. Developmental Psychology, 27, 489-504.

Caspi, A., & Elder, G. H., Jr. (1988). Emergent family patterns: The intergenerational construction of problem behavior and relationships. In R. A. Hinde & J. Stevenson-Hinde (Eds.), Relationships within families (pp. 218-240). New York: Oxford University Press.

Cherlin, A. J., Kiernan, K. E., & Chase-Lansdale, P. L. (1995). Parental divorce in childhood and demographic outcomes in young adulthood. Demography, 32, 299-318.

[Reference]

Dadds, M. R., Atkinson, E., Turner, C., Blums, G. J., & Lendich, B. L. (1999). Family conflict and child adjustment: Evidence for a cognitive-contextual model of intergenerational transmission. Journal of Family Psychology, 13, 194-208.

Davies, L., Avison, W R., & McAlpine, D. …