Chapter Outline

  1. Challenges to the traditional model of marriage
    1. Marriage: the legally and socially sanctioned union of sexually intimate adults
    2. Social trends that challenge the traditional model of marriage
      1. Increased acceptance of singlehood
      2. Increased acceptance of cohabitation: living together in a sexually intimate relationship without the legal bonds of marriage
      3. Reduced premium on permanence
        1. Commitment to personal growth may lead people to consider divorce justifiable
        2. Social stigma associated with divorce has lessened
      4. Transitions in gender roles
        1. Role expectations for husbands, wives becoming more varied
        2. Changing roles create new potential for conflict
      5. Increased voluntary childlessness
      6. Decline of the traditional nuclear family
  2. Moving toward marriage
    1. The motivation to marry
      1. Foremost factor is desire to participate in socially sanctioned, intimate relationship
      2. Social pressure on people to marry
      3. Multitude of motivational factors involved in decision to marry
    2. Selecting a mate
      1. Endogamy: the tendency of people to marry within their own social group
      2. Homogamy: the tendency of people to marry others who have similar personal characteristics
        1. Marital partners tend to be similar in age and education, physical attractiveness, attitudes and values
        2. Deviations from homogamy: men tend to be older, better educated than wives
      3. Gender and mate selection preferences
        1. Similarities include importance of kindness, emotional stability, dependability, and pleasant disposition
        2. Differences tend to be nearly universal across cultures
          1. Women place higher value on socioeconomic status, intelligence, character, ambition, and financial prospects
          2. Men place more emphasis on youthfulness, physical attractiveness, and interest in raising a family
          3. Most theories explain differences in evolutionary terms
      4. Stimulus-value-role theory
        1. Developed by Bernard Murstein
        2. Proposed three stages of progress toward marriage
          1. First stage focuses on stimulus value of potential partners
          2. Second stage involves value comparison, a stage involving mutual exploration of values and preferences
          3. Stage three is the role stage, in which individuals begin to consider the possibility of marriage
    3. Predictors of marital success
      1. Measuring marital "success" is difficult
      2. Some predictors of marital success have been identified
        1. Family background, in terms of success of parents' marriage
        2. Age
          1. Couples who marry young have higher divorce rates
          2. Couples who marry late also have high propensity to divorce
        3. Length of courtship is positively correlated with marital success
        4. Socioeconomic class: divorce rate is higher in working and lower classes
        5. Personality traits of individuals generally not predictive of marital success
          1. But presence of psychological distress in one or both partners is associated with problems
          2. Perspective taking (a component of empathy that involves the tendency to put oneself in another person's place) may be associated with marital adjustment
  3. Marital adjustment across the family life cycle(an orderly sequence of developmental stages that families tend to progress through)
    1. Between families: the unattached young adult
      1. Young adults in process of becoming independent of parents
      2. The trend has been for this stage to be prolonged in more people in recent decades.
    2. Joining together: the newly married couple
      1. Before the couple has children
      2. Tends to be characterized by high satisfaction "marital bliss"
      3. Used to be fairly short, but more and more couples are choosing to remain childless
        1. Childless couples cite great costs incurred, loss of privacy and time involved in raising children
        2. In spite of costs, most parents report no regret about choice
    3. Family with young children
      1. Marked by disruption in established routines
      2. Key to making smooth transition is to have realistic expectations about parental responsibilities
      3. Some of negative effects associated with parenthood may be due to other processes
    4. Family with adolescent children
      1. Generally considered a difficult time for parents because of conflicts with children
        1. Recent research suggests that adolescence is not as difficult as once believed
        2. But this stage is especially stressful for parents
          1. Parental influence tends to decline
          2. Conflict involving adolescents and their mothers are particularly likely
        3. Additionally, couples often worry about care of own parents
      2. Launching children into the adult world
        1. In many instances, parent-child conflict subsides, relations become closer
        2. Young adults are remaining in the homes of their parents for longer periods of time
        3. Parents faced with prospect of "empty nest"
      3. The family in later life
        1. Marital satisfaction tends to increase during this stage
        2. Many couples experience period of increased intimacy
    5. Vulnerable areas in marital adjustment
      1. Gaps in role expectations
        1. Gaps appear to have negative impact on marital satisfaction
        2. Marital role expectations tend to be shaped by exposure to parents' relationship
        3. Social forces (e.g., women's movement) have modified expectations
          1. Modern couples need to negotiate and renegotiate role responsibilities throughout family life cycle
          2. Husbands and wives with nontraditional attitudes about gender roles in marriage report somewhat lower marital satisfaction
        4. Women seem to be especially vulnerable to confusion about shifting marital roles
          1. Assume that husband will take equal responsibility in home
          2. But studies show that wives still do bulk of housework
            1. Wives who work outside of home, and do bulk of housework and child-rearing may suffer from role overload (when the prescribed activities for various roles are greater than the individual can comfortably handle)
            2. Women who are committed to careers also likely to experience inter-role conflict (uncomfortable dissonance experienced when the demands of two or more roles are contradictory or incompatible)
          3. Role overload, inter-role conflict less problematic for wives when couples have equitable role responsibilities
        5. Couples should discuss role expectations before marriage
      2. Work and career issues
        1. Husbands' work and marital adjustment
          1. High commitment to work coupled with strong commitment to parenting create role strain
          2. Stress at work can have negative impact on marital satisfaction
        2. Wives' work and marital adjustment
          1. Most studies find few differences in marital adjustment of male-breadwinner versus dual-career couples
          2. Marital satisfaction tends to be highest when partners share similar gender-role expectations
        3. Parents' work and children's development
          1. Many studies have found that maternal employment is not detrimental to children's development
          2. Maternal employment may help children become self-reliant, responsible
      3. Financial difficulties
        1. Poverty can produce marital problems
          1. Husbands' frustration, hostility can undermine positive aspects of relationship
          2. Spontaneity in communication may be impaired
        2. Quarrels about how to spend money may be source of marital strain
      4. Inadequate communication
        1. Effective communication is crucial to success of a marriage
        2. Unhappy marriages tend to be characterized by communication problems
        3. Gottman and his colleagues were able to accurately predict which couples would divorce based on communication patterns. Gottman's "Four Horsemen" (plus one):
          1. Contempt
          2. Criticism
          3. Defensiveness
          4. Stonewalling
          5. Belligerence
        4. Many approaches to marital therapy emphasize development of better communication skills
  4. Divorce
    1. Increasing rate of divorce
      1. Rates have increased substantially in recent decades
      2. One projection is that one-half of today's marriages in United States will result in marital dissolution
      3. Divorce rates are higher among blacks than whites, lower-income couples, people who marry at relatively young age, those whose parents divorced
      4. Variety of social trends have contributed to increasing divorce rates
        1. Stigma attached to divorce has eroded
        2. Many religious denominations becoming more tolerant of divorce
        3. Entry of women into workplace
    2. Deciding on a divorce
      1. Divorces are often postponed repeatedly
      2. Although more common, divorce is still stressful, traumatic
      3. Remaining in unhappy marriage is also potentially detrimental--studies have found association between marital distress and elevated rates of anxiety, depression, drug disorders
      4. Decisions about divorce must take into account impact on children
        1. Evidence suggests that in long run it's less damaging to children if unhappy parents divorce than if children grow up in intact but dissension-ridden home
        2. But there is trauma for children when parents divorce
          1. After divorce, children may experience depression, anxiety, nightmares, dependency, aggression, etc.
          2. Divorce can have lasting impact that may extend into adulthood
          3. Divorce is particularly traumatic for children when it's conflict-ridden
        3. Adjusting to divorce
          1. Divorce an exceedingly stressful life event
          2. Seems to be more difficult for women than men
            1. Women more likely to assume responsibility of raising children
            2. Divorced women less likely than ex-husbands to have adequate income
          3. But, women tend to have fewer mental health problems, more positive feelings about divorce
          4. High preoccupation with one's ex-spouse is associated with poorer adjustment
        4. Remarriage
          1. Most divorced individuals eventually remarry
        5. Among women, lesser education and lower income associated with more rapid remarriage
        6. Men who are better educated, financially well-off tend to remarry more quickly
      5. Divorce rates higher for second marriages
      6. Adaptation to remarriage can be difficult for children
  5. Alternatives to marriage
    1. Remaining single
      1. There is substantial pressure to marry in our society
      2. Most single people expect to marry eventually
      3. Two disparate stereotypes of single life
        1. Single people as carefree swingers
        2. Also seen as maladjusted, frustrated, bitter because they have not succeeded in finding a mate
          1. Single people exhibit poorer mental, physical health
          2. Although findings are mixed, most studies suggest that single women are more satisfied with their lives, less distressed than comparable single men
      4. Being married associated with greater health, happiness
        1. Health benefits may result from social support from spouse
        2. Greater happiness of married people attributed to advantages in social support, financial well-being, etc.
    2. Cohabitation
      1. Recent years have seen tremendous increase in number of cohabiting couples
      2. Cohabiting unions tend to be relatively short
      3. Characteristics of cohabiting couples
        1. Rates higher in less educated segments of population
        2. Almost half have been married previously
      4. Motivations for cohabitation (as opposed to marriage)
        1. Greater individualism, freedom
        2. Advantage of sharing living expenses
        3. Opportunity to check compatibility before marriage
      5. Most theorists see cohabitation as new stage in courtship process
        1. About three-fourths of cohabitants expect to marry current partner
        2. But, cohabitants report less satisfaction with their relationships than married couples
      6. Studies have found association between cohabitation and higher divorce rates
    3. Gay relationships
      1. Estimated that about 10% of population is homosexual
      2. Gays' relationships develop in generally unsupportive social context
        1. Families, social institutions often stigmatize such relationships
        2. Although attitudes are becoming more liberal, gays continue to be victims of discrimination, abuse
      3. Comparisons to heterosexual couples
        1. Limited data indicate that gay unions are less stable than marriages
        2. Studies have documented commonalities between gay couples and married couples
          1. Similar levels of love and commitment, sexual satisfaction, overall satisfaction
          2. Similar in what they want out of relationship, prospective partner
          3. Similar in factors that predict satisfaction, contribute to dissolution
      4. Misconceptions about nature of gay relationships
        1. Gays adopt traditional gender roles in union
          1. Appears to be true in only small minority of cases
          2. Gay couples generally seem to be more flexible about role expectations
        2. Gays engage in very high levels of sexual activity
          1. True only in certain segments of gay male population
          2. Decidedly uncommon among lesbians
          3. Becoming less common among males since advent of AIDS epidemic
        3. Gays rarely get involved in long-term, intimate relationships
          1. Most homosexual men, and nearly all homosexual women, prefer stable relationships
          2. Although relationships among gay couples seem to be less stable than those among married heterosexuals, they may compare favorably to those involving heterosexual cohabitants
        4. Gays tend to be thought of as individuals rather than as members of families
          1. Reflects society-wide bias that homosexuality and family don't mesh
          2. Increasing number of gay couples are opting to have children
        5. Gays assumed to be similar to each other
  6. Application: Understanding intimate violence (aggression toward those who are in close relationship to the aggressor)
    1. Incidence of rape
      1. Difficult to obtain accurate information (estimated that 90% of all rapes are never reported)
      2. The vast majority (80%) of rapes are committed by acquaintances
    2. Consequences of rape
      1. Particularly traumatic when the rapist was a person the woman had previously trusted
      2. Most rape survivors go through three stages
        1. Trauma, including depression, anger, and anxiety
        2. Denial, which involves efforts to put trauma behind them
        3. Resolution, which generally involves talking to someone about incident
    3. Factors contributing to date rape
      1. Alcohol and drugs
        1. Mere belief that one has drunk alcohol increases sexual arousal
        2. Both men and women report greater likelihood of engaging in sexually coercive behavior if they've been drinking
        3. Increasing use of "date rape drugs" (e.g., rohypnol, gamma hydroxybutyrate) is cause for concern
      2. Violent pornography
        1. Aggressive pornography may elevate men's tendency to behave aggressively toward women
        2. Exposure to aggressive pornography shown to increase males' willingness to say they would commit a rape
      3. Adversarial beliefs
        1. Men more likely than women to perceive friendly behavior as sexual invitation
        2. Neil Malamuth and Lisa Brown suggested that sexual aggressors might have a suspicious schema regarding women's communications about romantic or sexual interest
      4. Gender and sexual standards
        1. Men are encouraged to have sexual feelings; women are discouraged
        2. Traditional norms dictate that males should initiate sex and be persistent; women should resist advances
      5. Communication problems
        1. Women sometimes engage in "token resistance"
          1. For practical reasons (fear of pregnancy)
          2. For inhibition-related reasons (emotional, moral concerns)
          3. For manipulative reasons (getting man more aroused, being in control)
        2. Double standard presents women with avoidance-avoidance conflict
    4. Reducing the incidence of date rape
      1. Rape prevention programs are on increase
      2. Suggestions for reducing date rape
        1. Recognize date rape as act of sexual aggression
        2. Familiarize yourself with characteristics of men likely to engage in date rape
        3. Beware of excessive alcohol and drug use
        4. Exercise control over your environment
        5. Think through feelings about sex before question of having sex arises
        6. Communicate expectations about sex through appropriate self-disclosure
        7. Listen carefully and respect other's wishes
        8. Be prepared to act aggressively if assertive refusals don't stop unwanted advances
    5. Partner abuse
      1. Characteristics of intimate violence
        1. Takes many forms, including psychological, physical, sexual abuse of partners and children
        2. Obtaining accurate estimates of physical abuse is difficult
          1. Domestic violence not limited to heterosexual couples
          2. Estimates tend not to include abuse in cohabiting, dating couples
        3. Wives batter husbands more than people realize
          1. Much of wives' aggression seems to be in self-defense
          2. Women inflict far less physical damage than men
      2. Characteristics of batterers
        1. Low self-esteem
        2. Overly jealous and possessive
        3. Likely to have been beaten as children
        4. More likely among military, unemployed, drug and alcohol abusers
      3. Characteristics of battered women
        1. Low self-esteem
        2. Blame themselves
        3. More likely to have feminine or undifferentiated gender role
      4. Why women stay in abusive relationships
        1. May love husband, believe his behavior will change
        2. May want to avoid social stigma of being divorced
        3. Economic difficulties associated with supporting herself, children
        4. Fear that leaving will precipitate brutal attacks, murder
    6. Child abuse: intentional actions that result in harm to a child's physical or psychological well-being
      1. Characteristics of child abuse
        1. Most abuse inflicted by family members, caregivers
        2. Younger children at greater risk than older ones
        3. Mothers more likely to physically abuse children, although fathers more likely to engage in sexual abuse
        4. Boys more likely to suffer from physical abuse; girls more likely to be sexually abused
      2. Causes
        1. Acceptance of violence as legitimate disciplinary technique
        2. Substance abuse problems
        3. Associated with families that are large, poor
        4. Parents who were abused as children more likely to abuse own children
        5. Four conditions necessary for abuse to occur
          1. Caregiver who is predisposed to child abuse
          2. Crisis that creates extra stress for caregiver
          3. Lack of sources of support for caregiver
          4. Child who is perceived as unsatisfactory in some way
      3. Effects
        1. Depend on variety of factors, including age of child, frequency of abuse, severity of abuse
        2. Those who experienced repeated, severe abuse, especially before age of 3, more likely to have emotional difficulties (e.g., aggressiveness, low self-esteem)
        3. Abuse also linked to emotional difficulties, aggressiveness toward dating partners as adult
    7. Child sexual abuse: coerced or tricked sexual interaction between a young person (usually defined as under 18) and an older person (usually defined as at least five years older than the victim)
      1. Characteristics of child sexual abuse
        1. Most common form is fondling
        2. Difficult to obtain accurate estimates of problem, but it appears to be much more common than widely believed
        3. Vast majority of victims are girls
      2. Incest (intrafamilial sexual abuse): sexual activity between close relatives, including step-relatives
        1. Also difficult to obtain accurate estimates
        2. Victims are usually girls who are abused by stepfather, father, or older brother
        3. Incest between father and daughter typically begins when daughter is 6-11 years old, continues for at least two years; most encounters do not involve intercourse
        4. Occurs across all socioeconomic levels
        5. Most likely to occur in families that are:
          1. Socially isolated
          2. Controlled by domineering father
          3. In which wife is either dependent on husband or sick, absent, alcoholic, or mentally ill
        6. Effects on victim vary depending on nature of relationship
          1. Often suffer from depression, anxiety, guilt, anger, and helplessness vAbout one-third develop symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (see Chapter 3)
          2. Have difficulty trusting others
          3. As many as one-half have resilience to survive without serious long-term problems