Academic journal article Family Relations

Marital Satisfaction among Dual-Earner Couples: Gender Ideologies and Family-to-Work Conflict

Academic journal article Family Relations

Marital Satisfaction among Dual-Earner Couples: Gender Ideologies and Family-to-Work Conflict

Article excerpt

This study examines whether the gender ideologies of both spouses moderate how family-towork conflict relates to marital satisfaction among dual-earner couples. The authors address the research questions using data from a random sample of dual-earner couples from the northern part of a western state (N = 156 couples). Findings indicate that husbands ' gender ideologies moderate how husbands ' and wives ' family-to-work conflict relate to husbands ' marital satisfaction. Additionally, husbands ' gender ideologies moderate how husbands' family-towork conflict relates to wives ' marital satisfaction. In contrast, wives 'gender ideologies do not appear to moderate how either spouse's familyto-work conflict relate to marital satisfaction. The implications of the study for practitioners, including explicitly talking about gender beliefs with clients and the potential promise of feminist-informed therapy, are discussed.

Key Words: dual-earner couples, family-to-work conflict, gender ideology, marital satisfaction, negative family-towork spillover, work and family.

Major social changes have shaped family life and gender over the past several decades in the United States. Rising labor force participation rates of women have led to the prevalence of dual-earner couples, many of whom struggle to integrate the work responsibilities of each spouse with family needs (Moen & Yu, 2000). As such, the fluid boundaries between work and family are especially relevant for such couples. Gender ideologies, attitudes people hold regarding gender roles, have also become increasingly egalitarian, leading some women and men to challenge "traditional views" of how work and family should be navigated (e.g., Brewster & Padavic, 2000; Hochschild, 1989).

Reflective of these broad changes, scholars have examined how the navigation of work and family affects marital outcomes with a particular emphasis on work-family conflicts (e.g., Buriey, 1995; Galovan et al., 2010; Hill, 2005; Voydanoff, 2007), and others have explored the role of gender ideology in shaping how family dynamics relate to marital satisfaction (e.g., Greenstein, 1996a, 1996b; Hochschild, 1989). Little research, however, has investigated how gender ideology relates to how work-family conflicts are viewed, thereby leading such conflicts to be associated with marital satisfaction differently contingent on gender ideology. The few existing studies have focused on how gender ideology and workto-family conflict relate to marital satisfaction (Minnotte, Minnotte, Pedersen, Mannon, & Kiger, 2010; Zvonkovic, Schmiege, & Hall, 1994), with little, if any, attention paid to familyto-work conflict. Further, the role of the spouse's gender ideology has been acknowledged (e.g., Hochschild, 1989) but remains subject to far less empirical investigation-typically because scholars lack access to dyadic data (for an exception, see Roehling & Bultman, 2002). Work and family are interwoven with gender expectations; hence, it is reasonable to expect that gender ideologies shape how spouses think about family-to-work conflict. Along these lines, in this study we examined whether gender ideology moderates how family-to-work conflict relates to marital satisfaction among dual earners-a research question that has been unexamined in the literature. In doing so, we use dyadic data from a random sample of dual-earner couples from the northern part of a western state (N = 156 couples).

Family-to- Work Conflict and Marital Satisfaction

Scholars have addressed the ramifications of permeable work - family boundaries for marital outcomes, especially when conflicts between these domains occur (e.g., Burley, 1995; Galovan et al., 2010; Hill, 2005; Voydanoff, 2007). Conflict happens when one domain's obligations make it difficult to attend to the other domain's needs, with such conflicts being bidirectional (e.g., Bellavia& Frone, 2005; Voydanoff, 2007), leading to family-to-work conflict and work-tofamily conflict. …

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