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The impact of residential experience on the division of household labor, conflict patterns, differentiation, and marital satisfaction

16 April 2004


As the divorce rate increases in this country, and one half to two thirds of all first marriages will end in divorce, discovering practical pathways to marital satisfaction is vital. It is useful to look at those variables that have been associated positively with marital satisfaction and consider life experiences that offer avenues for such variables to develop. Living independently of family of origin before marriage may be one of those experiences. The guiding hypothesis of this dissertation is that the personal change resulting from living independently of family of origin prior to marriage will positively impact later marital satisfaction via three specific factors that have each separately been positively related to marital satisfaction. These factors are: 1) a greater tendency toward egalitarian ideas, and men's more equal sharing in household labor; 2) a critical interpersonal experience to improve conflict resolution skills; and 3) a more thorough differentiation from family of origin. Data were gathered door-to-door in the sate of Washington utilizing a questionnaire packet. The final sample of 217 respondents included 29 married individuals and 94 married couples. Although some of the subanalyses did not reveal significant results, findings overall did contribute importantly to research on pathways to marital satisfaction, division of household labor, differentiation, and conflict patterns.


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