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Criteria for marital satisfaction: does having a child make a difference?

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The design of much of the transition-to-parenthood research assumes that the factors determining marital satisfaction have the same effect before and after the birth of the first child for first-time parents and for childless couples. The present study is a preliminary study designed to examine this assumption. It was hypothesized that first time parents would attribute different weights to various marital-satisfaction determinants from those attributed by childless couples, and that if these differences were taken into account some of the reported marital-satisfaction differences between these two groups would be reduced. To test these hypotheses, 60 first-time parents and 60 childless couples were asked to rank the degree of their satisfaction with different aspects of their marriage and to rank the degree to which each aspect affected their marital satisfaction. These two scales were transformed into one to create the weighted measure of marital satisfaction. The results show an overall group difference in the weights attributed to various factors of marital satisfaction. They also show that the first-time parents were more satisfied with their marriage than the childless group, in both standard and weighted measures. These results are discussed in the context of the task of measuring marital satisfaction and the study's specific limitation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Haifa, Israel

Publication date: August 1, 2004

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