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Contextualizing Change in Marital Satisfaction During Middle Age: An 18-Year Longitudinal Study

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To address the need for longitudinal marital research that takes contextual factors into account, we investigated change in women's marital satisfaction over 18 years of middle age. We examined not only whether marital satisfaction changed, but also why and how it changed. Marital satisfaction increased in middle age, and increased marital, but not life, satisfaction was linked to the transition to an empty nest. More specifically, the transition to an empty nest increased marital satisfaction via an increase in women's enjoyment of time with their partners, but not via an increase in the quantity of that time with partners. Also, increasing marital satisfaction was not attributable to changing partners. Taken together, these findings support the utility of applying a contextualized approach focused on major life transitions to the study of long-term change in marital satisfaction.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology and 2: Institute of Personality and Social Research, University of California, Berkeley

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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