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The Marital Dynamics of Conflict over the Division of Labor

Esther S. Kluwer, José A. M. Heesink and Evert Van De Vliert
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 59, No. 3 (Aug., 1997), pp. 635-653
DOI: 10.2307/353951
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353951
Page Count: 19
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The Marital Dynamics of Conflict over the Division of Labor
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Abstract

The division of labor as a source of conflict is a concern for many couples. This study goes beyond the mere prediction of the amount of marital conflict by scrutinizing the relationship between spouses' discontent with the division of labor, their conflict interaction patterns, and subsequent outcomes. In addition, it aims to explain the relationship between wives' discontent with the division of labor and their conflict avoidance by looking at the moderating effect of spouses' gender role ideology. A survey of 494 Dutch couples showed that constructive and destructive conflict outcomes were predicted by spouses' discontent with the division of labor via marital interaction. The wife's discontent with housework was positively related to wife-demand/husband-withdraw interaction, which, in turn, predicted destructive conflict outcomes. Constructive conflict outcomes were predicted by mutually integrative interaction, which was, in turn, predicted by lower levels of discontent with the division of labor. Finally, traditional wives and wives with traditional husbands were more inclined to avoid conflict about the division of labor—despite their discontent—than egalitarian wives and wives with egalitarian husbands.

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