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Journal Article

Exploring Individual Differences in Marital Change across the Transition to Parenthood: The Role of Violated Expectations

Jay Belsky
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 47, No. 4 (Nov., 1985), pp. 1037-1044
DOI: 10.2307/352348
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352348
Page Count: 8

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Topics: Parenthood, Marriage, Infants, Parents, Husbands, Child development, Spouses, Wives, Questionnaires, Mothers
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Exploring Individual Differences in Marital Change across the Transition to Parenthood: The Role of Violated Expectations
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Abstract

In order to examine the determinants of individual differences in marital change across the transition to parenthood, men and women expecting first babies completed a questionnaire assessing their expectations about how the addition of a child to the family would affect their lives. At three- and nine-months postpartum, parents completed the same questionnaires, this time reporting the actual effect of the baby on their lives. A measure of violated expectations was created on the basis of the discrepancy between parental expectations and postnatal reports. As predicted, it was found that parents whose postnatal experiences turned out less positive and more negative than anticipated experienced more negative change in marriage. This was especially the case for mothers and for marital change between the last trimester of pregnancy and three-months postpartum. It also was observed that the prenatal expectations of the well-educated parents generally matched their postnatally reported experiences.

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