Marital Instability: A Social and Behavioral Study of the Early Years

Marital Instability: A Social and Behavioral Study of the Early Years

Marital Instability: A Social and Behavioral Study of the Early Years

Marital Instability: A Social and Behavioral Study of the Early Years

Synopsis

What factors influence the relationship of a newly married couple? Do these factors change as the marriage matures? The authors of this book examine the determinants of marital instability in the early years of marriage. Conclusions are based on the results of a survey of 199 black couples and 174 white couples throughout the first four years of marriage. Findings focus on attitudes, perceptions, and feelings spouses have for each other and the manner in which they interact. Some of the topics discussed in the survey include: length of courtship, educational differences, religion, and family involvement. The findings show what effect these and other factors have on a marriage.

Excerpt

In conducting research on the quality of life of the American population, time and again we came to the conclusion that for most adults the cornerstone of a solidly constructed satisfying life free from overwhelming tensions is a happy and stable marriage.

With this observation we were eager to do a prospective study of marriage--what makes for commitment, stability, and happiness in married couples. a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH 41253) enabled us to follow up this wish. the grant underwrote a collection of data from newlyweds right after they were married and for three successive years thereafter. the Early Years of Marriage study was launched.

The results reported in this book are based on this study. in multiple ways we examine the determinants of marital stability over the four years. This is a data-saturated book, meant for scholars and researchers who are interested in marriage or close relationships generally. the data are especially complex, since we, like Jesse Bernard, feel there is a his and her marriage, and black couples and white couples hold very different expectations for how marriage scripts should be played out. Men and women's reactions and commitments to marriage are not the same, just as men and women differ in many other aspects of life. Black couples interpret their marital experiences in the context of their social worlds, their communities and kin, their economic situations--all within a backdrop of institutional racism. White couples also interpret their experiences contextually, but they are bound to be different from the black context. As a result we have to present results separately for blacks and whites and separately for men and women. This does not make easy reading for the lay person, but we hope we have highlighted enough of the meaning of the results so that the complexity does not overwhelm the reader who is less well-versed in the details of multivariate statistical analyses.

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