Hirschberger+et+al.++2009 - Personal Relationships, 16...

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Personal Relationships , 16 (2009), 401–420. Printed in the United States of America. Copyright © 2009 IARR. 1350-4126/09 Attachment, marital satisfaction, and divorce during the Frst Ffteen years of parenthood GILAD HIRSCHBERGER, a SANJAY SRIVASTAVA, b PENNY MARSH, c CAROLYN PAPE COWAN, c AND PHILIP A. COWAN c a Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya; b University of Oregon; c University of California, Berkeley Abstract This study examines 2 overlapping longitudinal samples of U.S. couples with children, covering a period of 15 years after the Frst child’s birth. The Frst sample extended from the pregnancy with a Frst child until that child was 5.5 years old and the second from ages 4.5 to 14.5. Growth curve analyses revealed that marital satisfaction declined over 15 years for both husbands and wives. Attachment security measured in the second sample was associated with greater marital satisfaction but did not buffer against declines in marital satisfaction over time. Husbands’ lower initial level of marital satisfaction measured around the Frst child’s transition to school was the only signiFcant predictor of marital dissolution. The discussion emphasizes theoretical and practical implications of these Fndings. Many married individuals experience signiF- cant changes in their lives after they become parents, including identity changes, shifting roles in the marriage and outside the fam- ily, and changes in the relationship with their own parents. How do couple relationships fare over time after partners become par- ents, and what are the factors that predict the long-term marital success of these cou- ples? Over the past 50 years, a number of researchers have proposed that marital satis- faction peaks around the time of the wed- ding and tends to decline from that point on (e.g., Burgess & Wallin, 1953; Vailliant & Gilad Hirschberger, New School of Psychology, Inter- disciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya; Sanjay Srivastava, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon; Penny Marsh, Carolyn Pape Cowan, and Philip A. Cowan, Department of Psychology and Institute of Human Devel- opment, University of California, Berkeley. The studies described here were funded by RO1- NIMH RO1-31109 to the last two authors. Correspondence should be addressed to Gilad Hirschberger, New School of Psychology, Interdisci- plinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, P.O. Box 167 Herzliya 46150 Israel, e-mail: hirschberger@idc.ac.il. Vailliant, 1993). Nonetheless, some recent evi- dence suggests that when children leave home couples experience an increase in their mar- ital satisfaction (Gorchoff, John, & Helson, 2008). The transition to parenthood is a partic- ularly important milestone event in a marriage that provides excitement and joy, but it is also often related to distress in the individ- ual parents. Thus, the period following this transition may be a critical time for determin- ing the health and longevity of the marital relationship.
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Hirschberger+et+al.++2009 - Personal Relationships, 16...

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