Journal of Marriage and Family

Published by Wiley

Online ISSN: 1741-3737


Print ISSN: 0022-2445


Marital Conflict Behaviors and Implications for Divorce Over 16 Years
  • Article

October 2010


1,086 Reads




Jessica M McIlvane
This study examined self-reported marital conflict behaviors and their implications for divorce. Husbands and wives (N = 373 couples; 47% White American, 53% Black American) reported conflict behaviors in years 1, 3, 7, and 16 of their marriages. Individual behaviors (e.g., destructive behaviors) and patterns of behaviors between partners (e.g., withdrawal-constructive) in Year 1 predicted higher divorce rates. Wives' destructive and withdrawal behaviors decreased over time, whereas husbands' conflict behaviors remained stable. Husbands reported more constructive and less destructive behaviors than wives and Black American couples reported more withdrawal than White American couples. Findings support behavioral theories of marriage demonstrating that conflict behaviors predict divorce and accommodation theories indicating that conflict behaviors become less negative over time.

Intergenerational Coresidence and Family Transitions in the United States, 1850–1880

February 2011


63 Reads

This study uses a new source of linked census data (N = 6,734) to test theories proposed to explain the high intergenerational coresidence in 19th-century America. Was it a system of support for dependent elderly, or did it reflect intergenerational interdependence? I focus on transitions from middle age to old age, and I assess key predictors of family transitions, including widowhood, retirement, disability, migration, and wealth. The results show that adverse events precipitated changes in the headship of intergenerational families but did not increase the likelihood of residing in an intergenerational family. The findings suggest that 19th-century intergenerational coresidence was not principally a means of old-age support; more often, probably, there was a reciprocal relationship between generations.

The Decoupling of Marriage and Parenthood? Trends in the Timing of Marital First Births, 1945-2002

June 2014


189 Reads

Family formation changed dramatically over the twentieth century in the United States. The impact of these changes on childbearing has primarily been studied in terms of nonmarital fertility. However, changes in family formation behavior also have implications for fertility within marriage. We use data from ten fertility surveys to describe changes in the timing of marital childbearing from the 1940s through the 21(st) century for non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black women. Based on harmonized data from the Integrated Fertility Survey Series, our results suggest increasing divergence in fertility timing for white women. A growing proportion of marriages begin with a premarital conception; at the same time, an increasing proportion of white women are postponing fertility within marriage. For black women, marital fertility is increasingly postponed beyond the early years of marriage. Evaluating the sequencing of marriage and parenthood over time is critical to understanding the changing meaning of marriage.

Shifts in Abortion Attitudes: 1972-1978

September 1980


45 Reads

Utilizing data from NORC's General Social Survey, 1972-1978, trends in attitudes toward abortion on the part of the U.S. population are analyzed with emphasis upon a comparison of attitudes before and after the 1973 Roe and Doe Supreme Court decisions. Comparisons are also made with findings from the 1960s regarding abortion attitudes. While there has been an increasing liberalization of attitudes toward legalized abortion in the past 15 years, by 1975 the trend began to change and attitudes became slightly more conservative. By 1978, the conservative trend is pronounced. These changes are a function of selected demographic variables.

Religion in Families, 1999-2009: A Relational Spirituality Framework
  • Article
  • Full-text available

August 2010


1,638 Reads

This review examines the role of religion, for better and worse, in marital and parent-child relationships according to peer reviewed studies from 1999-2009. A conceptual framework labeled "relational spirituality" is used to: (a) organize the breadth of findings into the three stages of the formation, maintenance, and transformation of family relationships, and (b) illustrate three in-depth sets of mechanisms to delve into unique ways religion may shape family bonds. Topics include union formation, fertility, spousal roles, marital satisfaction and conflict, divorce, domestic violence, infidelity, pregnancy, parenting children, parenting adolescents, and coping with family distress. Conclusions emphasize moving beyond markers of general religiousness and identifying specific spiritual beliefs and practices that could prevent or intensify problems in traditional and nontraditional families.

Demographic Trends in the United States: A Review of Research in the 2000s

June 2010


492 Reads

Demographic trends in the 2000s showed the continuing separation of family and household due to factors such as childbearing among single parents, the dissolution of cohabiting unions, divorce, repartnering, and remarriage. The transnational families of many immigrants also displayed this separation, as families extended across borders. In addition, demographers demonstrated during the decade that trends such as marriage and divorce were diverging according to education. Moreover, demographic trends in the age structure of the population showed that a large increase in the elderly population will occur in the 2010s. Overall, demographic trends produced an increased complexity of family life and a more ambiguous and fluid set of categories than demographers are accustomed to measuring.

Relationship Churning, Physical Violence, and Verbal Abuse in Young Adult Relationships

February 2013


671 Reads

Young adults' romantic relationships are often unstable, commonly including breakup-reconcile patterns. From the developmental perspective of emerging adulthood exploration, such relationship "churning" is expected; however, minor conflicts are more common in churning relationships. Using TARS data (N = 792), we test whether relationship churning is associated with more serious conflict: physical violence and verbal abuse. Those who are stably broken up (breakup only - no reconciliation) are similar to those who are stably together in their conflict experiences. In contrast, churners (i.e., those involved in on-off relationships) are twice as likely as those who are stably together or stably broken up to report physical violence and half again as likely to report the presence of verbal abuse in their relationships; this association between churning and conflict holds net of a host of demographic, personal, and relationship characteristics. These findings have implications for better understanding unhealthy relationship behaviors.

No Fun Anymore: Leisure and Marital Quality Across the Transition to Parenthood

February 2008


166 Reads

This study examines changes in leisure patterns across the transition to parenthood for dual-earner, working-class couples, as well as the relationship between leisure and marital quality. To this end, 147 heterosexual couples were interviewed across the transition to parenthood. Findings indicate that during the transition to parenthood, husbands and wives experience an initial decline in leisure, followed by a gradual incline after the wife's return to work. Overall, wives who reported more shared leisure prenatally also reported more marital love and less conflict 1 year later. Husbands with more independent leisure prenatally reported less love and more conflict 1 year later. Conclusions suggest leisure time is integral to well-functioning marriages, with effects lasting throughout the first year of parenthood.

Partnering Across the Life Course: Sex, Relationships, and Mate Selection

June 2010


361 Reads

Marital delay, relationship dissolution and churning, and high divorce rates have extended the amount of time individuals in search of romantic relationships spend outside of marital unions. The scope of research on intimate partnering now includes studies of "hooking up," Internet dating, visiting relationships, cohabitation, marriage following childbirth, and serial partnering, as well as more traditional research on transitions into marriage. Collectively, we know much more about relationship formation and development, but research often remains balkanized among scholars employing different theoretical approaches, methodologies, or disciplinary perspectives. The study of relationship behavior is also segmented into particular life stages, with little attention given to linkages between stages over the life course. Recommendations for future research are offered.

Mexican American Fathers' Occupational Conditions: Links to Family Members' Psychological Adjustment

February 2006


70 Reads

Ann C Crouter






Melissa Fortner
To examine the implications of fathers' occupational conditions (i.e., income, work hours, shift work, pressure, workplace racism, and underemployment) for family members' psychological adjustment, home interviews were conducted with fathers, mothers, and two adolescent offspring in each of 218 Mexican American families. Results underscored the importance of acculturation as a moderator. Fathers' income was negatively associated with depressive symptoms in highly acculturated families but not in less acculturated families. In contrast, fathers' reports of workplace racism were positively associated with depressive symptoms in less acculturated families but not in more acculturated family contexts. These findings were consistent across all 4 family members, suggesting that the "long arm" of the jobs held by Mexican American fathers extends to mothers and adolescent offspring.

Gene-Environment Interplay, Family Relationships, and Child Adjustment

August 2011


103 Reads

This paper reviews behavioral genetic research from the past decade that has moved beyond simply studying the independent influences of genes and environments. The studies considered in this review have instead focused on understanding gene - environment interplay, including genotype - environment correlation ( rGE) and genotype × environment interaction (G × E). Studies have suggested that rGE is an important pathway through which family relationships are associated with child adjustment. Also important are direct causal influences of family relationships on child adjustment, independent of genetic confounds. Other studies have indicated that genetic and environmental influences on child adjustment are moderated by different levels of family relationships in G × E interactions. Genetically informed studies that have examined family relations have been critical to advancing our understanding of gene - environment interplay.

Life Events, Sibling Warmth, and Youths' Adjustment

October 2011


113 Reads

Sibling warmth has been identified as a protective factor from life events, but stressor-support match-mismatch and social domains perspectives suggest that sibling warmth may not efficiently protect youths from all types of life events. We tested whether sibling warmth moderated the association between each of family-wide, youths' personal, and siblings' personal life events and both depressive symptoms and risk-taking behaviors. Participants were 187 youths aged 9-18 (M = 11.80 years old, SD = 2.05). Multiple regression models revealed that sibling warmth was a protective factor from depressive symptoms for family-wide events, but not for youths' personal and siblings' personal life events. Findings highlight the importance of contextualizing protective functions of sibling warmth by taking into account the domains of stressors and adjustment.

Figure 1: Graphical Presentation of Mean Factor Scores for the First-Order Factor Indicators of the Family Communication Patterns Latent Variable. Note: First bar in every set: mother’s mean factor score. Second bar: father’s mean factor score. Third bar: adolescent’s mean factor score. Fourth bar: sibling’s mean factor score. Bars rising above 0 represent behavior levels above the overall mean. Bars falling below 0 represent behavior levels below the overall mean.
The Effect of Family Communication Patterns on Adopted Adolescent Adjustment

September 2008


641 Reads

Adoption and family communication both affect adolescent adjustment. We proposed that adoption status and family communication interact such that adopted adolescents in families with certain communication patterns are at greater risk for adjustment problems. We tested this hypothesis using a community-based sample of 384 adoptive and 208 nonadoptive families. Adolescents in these families were, on average, 16 years of age. The results supported our hypothesis. Adopted adolescents were at significantly greater risk for adjustment problems compared to nonadopted adolescents in families that emphasized conformity orientation without conversation orientation and in families that emphasized neither conformity nor conversation orientation. Adolescents in families emphasizing conversation orientation were at lower risk for adjustment problems, regardless of adoption status.

Sibling Relationships and Influences in Childhood and Adolescence

October 2012


2,890 Reads

The authors review the literature on sibling relationships in childhood and adolescence, starting by tracing themes from foundational research and theory and then focusing on empirical research during the past 2 decades. This literature documents siblings' centrality in family life, sources of variation in sibling relationship qualities, and the significance of siblings for child and adolescent development and adjustment. Sibling influences emerge not only in the context of siblings' frequent and often emotionally intense interactions but also by virtue of siblings' role in larger family system dynamics. Although siblings are building blocks of family structure and key players in family dynamics, their role has been relatively neglected by family scholars and by those who study close relationships. Incorporating study of siblings into family research provides novel insights into the operation of families as social and socializing systems.

The Continuation of Intimate Partner Violence From Adolescence to Young Adulthood

April 2013


236 Reads

Little attention has been paid to whether violence in adolescent romantic relationships is associated with relationship violence later in young adulthood. This study examined the continuation of intimate partner violence (IPV) from adolescence to young adulthood. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, results from negative binomial models and propensity score models showed that being victimized by relationship partners in adolescence was significantly associated with both perpetration and victimization in romantic relationships in young adulthood. Women reported higher levels of perpetration and lower levels of victimization than men did. Those who were living together (married or cohabiting) reported higher levels of victimization and perpetration than those who were dating. Further, such associations existed beyond the effects of parent-child violence and general aggression tendencies, suggesting the continuation of relationship-specific violence. Finally, these patterns persisted after controlling for participants' age, race and ethnicity, parental education, and family structure.

Parenting Practices and Adolescent Sexual Behavior: A Longitudinal Study

February 2008


432 Reads

The effects of parental attitudes, practices, and television mediation on adolescent sexual behaviors were investigated in a study of adolescent sexuality and media (N=887). Confirmatory factor analyses supported an eight-factor parenting model with television mediation factors as constructs distinct from general parenting practices. Logistic regressions indicated that adolescents reporting greater parental disapproval and limits on viewing at Wave 1 were less likely to initiate oral sex between Waves 1 and 2. Adolescents who reported more sexual communication with parents were more likely to initiate oral sex. Results for vaginal intercourse were similar to those for oral sex. Co-viewing was a significant negative predictor of initiation of sexual behavior. Parental attitudes and television mediation can delay potentially risky adolescent sexual behaviors.

Trajectories of Conflict Over Raising Adolescent Children and Marital Satisfaction

August 2009


95 Reads

The present study examined trajectories of marital satisfaction among couples with adolescent children and evaluated how changes in parents' conflict over raising adolescent children were associated with changes in marital satisfaction over four years. Using a prospective, longitudinal research design and controlling for family socioeconomic status, dyadic growth curve analysis from a sample of 431 couples with adolescent children indicated that marital satisfaction decreased over time for parents with adolescent children, and that the trajectories for mothers and fathers were substantially linked. More importantly, the study demonstrated that increases or decreases in parents' marital conflict over raising adolescent children were associated with corresponding decreases or increases in marital satisfaction for both mothers and fathers.

Marriage Following Adolescent Parenthood: Relationship to Adult Well‐being

November 2008


52 Reads

Research suggests that adult marriages confer benefits. Does marriage following a teenage birth confer benefits similar to those observed for adults? Longitudinal data from a community sample of 235 young women who gave birth as unmarried adolescents were used to examine this question. Controlling for socioeconomic status and preexisting "benefits," we found that marriage conferred small, though statistically significant, benefits with regard to less economic adversity and less marijuana and polydrug use but no observable benefits with regard to alcohol or other drug use, poverty, psychological well-being, or high school completion, in contrast to prior findings. We conclude that in addition to the marriage benefits observed, stable intimate relationships, whether marital or not, appear to confer psychological benefits in this sample.

Of Sex and Romance: Late Adolescent Relationships and Young Adult Union Formation

November 2007


209 Reads

To better understand the social factors that influence the diverse pathways to family formation young adults experience today, this research investigates the association between opposite-gender relationships during late adolescence and union formation in early adulthood. Using data from the first and third waves of the Add Health (n = 4,911), we show that, for both men and women, there is continuity between adolescent and adult relationship experiences. Those involved in adolescent romantic relationships at the end of high school are more likely to marry and to cohabit in early adulthood. Moreover, involvement in a nonromantic sexual relationship is positively associated with cohabitation, but not marriage. We conclude that the precursors to union formation patterns in adulthood are observable in adolescence.

Indicators of Adolescent Depression and Relationship Progression in Emerging Adulthood

February 2014


103 Reads

Adolescent depression may be associated with future relationship problems that have long-term consequences given the developmental importance and health benefits of forming committed unions in emerging adulthood. The authors examined associations between emotional and behavioral indicators of adolescent depression (depressive symptoms, alcohol problems, and suicidal ideation) and romantic relationship and union formation and dissolution in emerging adulthood (n = 14,146) using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Adolescent alcohol problems were associated with more romantic relationships in emerging adulthood. Emerging adults with depressive symptoms or alcohol problems in adolescence were significantly more likely to enter into a cohabiting union, and those with adolescent alcohol problems were less likely to marry. Cohabiting emerging adults with a history of adolescent depressive symptoms were less likely to marry, whereas suicidal ideation was associated with a decreased likelihood of cohabitation dissolution. Implications for future research are discussed.

Assessing Causality and Persistence in Associations Between Family Dinners and Adolescent Well-Being

June 2012


126 Reads

Adolescents who share meals with their parents score better on a range of well-being indicators. Using three waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (N = 17,977), we assessed the causal nature of these associations and the extent to which they persist into adulthood. We examined links between family dinners and adolescent mental health, substance use, and delinquency at wave 1, accounting for detailed measures of the family environment to test whether family meals simply proxy for other family processes. As a more stringent test of causality, we estimated fixed effects models from waves 1 and 2, and we used wave 3 to explore persistence in the influence of family dinners. Associations between family dinners and adolescent well-being remained significant, net of controls, and some held up to stricter tests of causality. Beyond indirect benefits via earlier well-being, however, family dinners associations did not persist into adulthood.

Nonresident Fathers' Contributions to Adolescent Well-Being

September 2006


247 Reads

Using data from 453 adolescents in Wave 2 of the National Survey of Families and Households, we examine how multiple dimensions of nonresident father involvement are associated with different dimensions of child well-being. Father-child relationship quality and responsive fathering are modestly associated with fewer externalizing and internalizing problems among adolescents. The quality of the mother-child relationship, however, has stronger effects on child well-being. Nevertheless, even if adolescents have weak ties to mothers, those who have strong ties to nonresident fathers exhibit fewer internalizing problems and less acting out at school than adolescents who have weak ties to both parents. Adolescents are worst off on a range of outcomes when they have weak ties to both their mothers and nonresident fathers.

Conflict Resolution Between Mexican Origin Adolescent Siblings

December 2008


72 Reads

We investigated correlates of adolescents' sibling conflict resolution strategies in 246, two-parent Mexican origin families. Specifically, we examined links between siblings' conflict resolution strategies and sibling dyad characteristics, siblings' cultural orientations and values, and sibling relationship qualities. Data were gathered during home interviews with adolescent siblings. Older siblings were more likely to use controlling strategies whereas younger siblings were more likely to use nonconfrontation strategies. Cultural orientations and familism values were positively linked to siblings' solution orientation. Solution orientation strategies were associated with sibling intimacy, and control strategies were related to sibling negativity. Discussion highlights the importance of considering the cultural context in which sibling relationships are embedded.

Figure 1. Three-Way Interaction Between Antisocial Behavior, Coparenting Conflict, and Adolescent Gender Predicting Mothers' Negativity at Wave 2.
Figure 3. Interaction Between Coparenting Conflict and Adolescent Antisocial Behavior at Wave 1 Predicting Adolescent Antisocial Behavior at Wave 2.
The Longitudinal Influence of Coparenting Conflict on Parental Negativity and Adolescent Maladjustment

August 2007


340 Reads

This study addresses two limitations of coparenting research: first, little research on coparenting has been conducted with families of adolescents, and second, there is little understanding regarding the child and family contexts in which coparenting is most salient. The longitudinal relation of coparenting conflict to parenting and adolescent maladjustment across 3 years was investigated among 516 2-parent, 2-adolescent families. Coparenting conflict predicted as much or more unique variance in parenting and adolescent adjustment as did marital quality and disagreement together. After controlling for stability, coparenting conflict predicted mothers' and fathers' negativity and adolescent antisocial behavior (but not depression). Importantly, the influence of coparenting conflict in all cases varied as a function of family type, adolescent gender, or initial level of antisocial behavior, or all. The implications of these results for family processes in different relational and developmental contexts are discussed.

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