Marriage Stability the Success of Marriage Has Essay

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Sources: 5
  • Subject: Family and Marriage
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #8069386

Excerpt from Essay :

Marriage Stability

The success of marriage has been shown to depend on a number of variables, such as interpersonal competence (Cole and Cole, 1999), personal meanings of marriage (Timmer and Orbuch, 2001), socioeconomic status, education, wife religiosity (Brown, Orbuch, and Bauermeister, 2008), and close ties to parents (Orbuch, Bauermeister, Brown, and McKinley, 2013). The vast majority of research has focused on the perspective of parents and the various variables that influence marriage stability. By comparison, little attention has been paid to the perspective of children despite research showing that divorce can have a dramatic and negative impact on the social, psychological, and economic well-being of children (Wallerstein, Lewis, and Rosenthal, 2013). This research study will investigate the perspective of unmarried adults who came from either a broken or intact home and whether they believe close family ties had a significant influence on marriage stability.

Conceptual and Operational Definition

This study will investigate whether the independent variable of 'close family ties', through the eyes of the adult children, had a significant impact on the dependent variable marriage stability. The independent variable 'close family ties' encompasses what people would normally call the in-laws. Of primary importance is the grandparents and whether they had a stabilizing or destabilizing effect on the marriage. Aunts and uncles may have also played an important role and will therefore be included in the definition of the independent variable. The dependent variable is 'marriage stability' and this term is intended to encompass a range of marriage conditions from parents happily committed to each other, to divorce.

The independent variable 'close family ties' is necessarily subjective, because the answer given will depend on the personal experiences of the survey respondent. Although it is a quantitative variable, ranging from distant to close, it will be measured using the two categories close and not close. For this reason, the independent variable is ordinal in nature. The dependent variable 'marriage stability' is quantitative, but like the independent variable will quantified using the two categories never divorced or divorced. Accordingly, the dependent variable is ordinal as well.

Hypothesis

The hypothesis being tested in this study is whether the independent variable 'close family ties' will interact with the dependent variable 'marriage stability' in complex ways and is therefore a poor predictor of marriage stability.

Sampling Design

The questionnaire used in this study has been designed specifically for college students between the ages of 18 and 25 (N = 3-5), regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, with the purpose of capturing an adult demographic before they have embarked upon career, marriage, and parenthood. The questionnaire has been designed so that respondents can take the survey home and complete it in private. A privacy statement has been included that makes it clear that the respondent can decide not to participate in the study at any time. A stamped, addressed envelope has been included so that respondents can mail the completed survey if they would prefer to remain anonymous, rather than returning the survey personally.

Sampling Method

Ten self-reported unmarried students were given a package containing the questionnaire, voluntary participation statement, and a stamped, addressed envelope under the assumption that at least half would return completed and usable questionnaires. Eight students returned the questionnaires, but only five were had all of the questions answered. Rather than attempt to incorporate the partially completed questionnaires, the results presented here are based on the five that were fully filled out.

Results and Discussion

The individual answers to the survey questions are presented in the Table below. The demographic variables reveal a diverse sample in terms of age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Most respondents were in the lower income brackets, which probably reflect support by parents and/or a financial aid package. Only one respondent (2) reported parents not divorcing during their childhood, yet three out of five reported that they were still close to their in-laws. From the perspective of respondents, most parents have remained close to their parents and siblings, but three out of five tried to avoid gatherings involving their in-laws. The same parents who avoid gatherings with in-laws also experience discord in the aftermath of these gatherings. Only one respondent reported a parent or parents looking forward to gatherings with in-laws. The answers to the two essay questions at the end of the questionnaire supported the possibility that marriage stability did depend in part on the nature of parental relationships with in-laws, but that one or two in-laws could be damaging, but not all relatives.

The data presented here supports the possibility that unhealthy interactions with in-laws may contribute to marriage instability. The results also a lack of association between parental and child closeness to in-laws, suggesting these emotional ties can remain intact for the children even after the parents have pulled back. These results support the hypothesis that close family ties is a relatively poor predictor of marriage stability; however, the data seems to suggest that traumatic experiences at family gatherings with in-laws may be a better predictor of marriage instability.

Table: Results of Marriage Stability Survey

Respondents

1

2

3

4

5

Age

21

21

20

18

25

Gender

M

F

F

M

F

Parental divorce during childhood

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Income

1

2

1

1

2

Race/Ethnicity

C

H

C

A

AA

Student close to in-laws

Y

Y

N

N

Y

Parents close to parents/siblings

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Traumatic visits to in-laws

N

N

Y

Y

N

Parental in-law avoidance

N

N

Y

Y

Y

Favorable anticipation of gatherings

Y

N

N

N

N

Note: M = male; F = female; C = Caucasian; H = Hispanic; A = Asian; AA = African-American; Y = yes; N = no.

The results presented above contrast with the findings of Orbuch and colleagues (2013), which revealed that the interaction between close emotional ties with in-laws was modified by race and gender. They interviewed a total of 373 couples, of which 199 were African-American and 174 Caucasian, and then followed them for 16 years to determine whether close emotional ties to in-laws during the first years of marriage had a significant effect on marriage stability. When Caucasian wives had close emotional ties to the in-laws, marriage stability tended to decline. The reverse was true for Caucasian husbands and African-American couples. These results seem to support one aspect of the current study; the interaction between close ties to in-laws and marriage stability is complex. The results of the current study also suggest that traumatic experiences with in-laws may be a better predictor of marriage stability.

There are many limitations to the current study that prevent drawing conclusions about the findings. The hypothesis being tested was whether close ties to in-laws interacted with marriage stability in complex ways and was therefore a poor predictor of the dependent variable. The limited size of the questionnaire prevented a more comprehensive approach to testing this hypothesis and the sample size was limiting. In addition, no conclusions could be drawn about the influence of race/ethnicity or gender on the results because the sample was small and diverse.

At best, this limited study could be considered exploratory research to better understand whether discord between married couples and in-laws might be a better predictor of marriage stability. The strongest result of the present study is the possibility of a significant correlation between divorce, emotionally-trying family gatherings, and parental avoidance of family gatherings. The significance of this result is that marriage stability may be undermined by difficult relationships with in-laws, regardless of how close the emotional ties might be. In other words, close emotional ties to in-laws can be either negative or positive in terms of marriage stability.

Future research should address the many limitations of the present study including the limited scope of the questionnaire and small sample size. The results presented here supports addressing several issues related to marriage stability and emotional ties to relatives. For example, distinguishing between the positive and negative impact of such interactions and whether there is a difference between in-laws and first degree relatives on marriage stability.

Lessons Learned

A number of difficulties were encountered when designing the questionnaire and interpreting the results. When the questions were first formulated the meanings seemed clear, but after analyzing the results it became clear that respondents could be interpreting the questions differently . Designing questions that directly addressed the hypothesis being tested was also found to be difficult, since there were a number of potential independent variables that could impact the answers given. Conducting a survey with the potential to produce significant and relevant results is therefore a difficult endeavor that probably takes years to refine.

References

Bridges, Laura J. And Roe, Amy E.C. (2007). Children's perspectives on their relationships with grandparents following parental separation: A longitudinal study. Social Development, 16(3), 539-554.

Brown, Edna, Orbuch, Terri L., and Bauermeister, Jose A. (2008). Religiosity and marital stability among Black American and White American couples. Family Relations, 57(2), 186-197.

Cole, Charles Lee and Cole, Anna L. (1999). Marriage enrichment and prevention really…

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