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Stability and Change in Marriage across the Transition to Parenthood: A Second Study

Jay Belsky, Mary E. Lang and Michael Rovine
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 47, No. 4 (Nov., 1985), pp. 855-865
DOI: 10.2307/352329
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352329
Page Count: 11
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Stability and Change in Marriage across the Transition to Parenthood: A Second Study
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Abstract

In an attempt to replicate and extend the results of an initial longitudinal study of the transition to parenthood, some 67 couples, each bearing their first child, were repeatedly studied via interviews, observations, and questionnaires from the last trimester of pregnancy through the ninth postpartum month. Using instruments that provided more differentiated assessments of the marital relationship than those employed in the initial investigation, we once again observed several consistent patterns of marital change. First, marital quality, broadly conceived, declined significantly, though moderately, over time. Second, this decline was most evident in the case of wives and, third, was most evident over the first six months of study. On the face of these reliable mean changes, it also was found that individual differences remained highly stable over time, and that the correspondence of husband's and wife's marital appraisal increased over time. These results are discussed in terms of their relation to previously reported findings and in terms of the relative merits of different measurement approaches for studying marital change across the transition to parenthood.

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