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Measuring Marital Satisfaction in Three Generations: Positive and Negative Dimensions

Rosalie Gilford and Vern Bengtson
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 41, No. 2 (May, 1979), pp. 387-398
DOI: 10.2307/351705
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/351705
Page Count: 12
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Measuring Marital Satisfaction in Three Generations: Positive and Negative Dimensions
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Abstract

Some studies of marital satisfaction with advancing age have suggested a linear decline over time; others a U-shaped curve with an upswing in satisfaction during the later stages of the family cycle. Contradictory findings may in part be due to orthogonal dimensions underlying "marital satisfaction." Data from 1,056 married members of three-generation families were used to develop a two-dimensional measure of marital satisfaction reflecting positive interaction and negative sentiment. Results suggest marked differences by generation on both dimensions, with the youngest generation highest on both positive and negative factors. The oldest showed moderately low levels on positive interaction but even lower scores on negative sentiment. Further analyses using chronological age and duration of marriage displayed results similar to the three-generational analysis; no differences emerged by sex or by first versus second marriages. Thus, the "career" of self-reported marital satisfaction parsimoniously may be described by examining two dimensions which evidence a linear decline by age (negative sentiment) and a U-shaped curve (positive interaction).

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