Tag Archives: marriage

Despite claims, children of same-sex parents doing no worse than other children

By Erica Zaiser

In Mexico the Supreme Court just decided to uphold gay adoption despite some arguments that children of gay parents are at risk of increased discrimination. Meanwhile, Australian senate hopeful, Wendy Francis, stated on her Twitter account that children of gay parents suffer from emotional abuse. She argues that gay parents deprive their children from having either a mother or a father and that this is tantamount to abuse. She isn’t the first politician to try to argue that homosexual couples should not be allowed to have children because non-straight parents can’t be as good as straight parents. However, there is little evidence to back up claims that children of gay parents are deprived or less well-adjusted than children from straight couples. In fact there is ample research showing just the opposite.

Beyond the research that has shown that gay and lesbian relationships are no less stable than heterosexual relationships, there is also research showing that the benefits children receive by being raised by two parents of opposite genders are the same for children of two same-sex parents. In fact if there are any differences, many researchers are now finding that gay parents might have even more well-adjusted children than some straight couples (especially when two women are raising a child). Very recent work looking at adopted children of gay couples versus adopted children of heterosexual couples finds that when examining their development and behaviour, children of gay couples do just as well. All this research supports what seems entirely obvious to me: children from two loving parents of any gender will probably turn out better than children of parents who don’t want them or can’t handle them. It does seem reasonable that on average children of gay couples would be even more well-adjusted than many other children because usually the choice to have children for a same-sex couple is very conscious and particularly, when adoption is involved, can require a great deal of time and resources. So, two parents who work so hard to have a child can’t possibly be worse than two parents who don’t really want a child in the first place but happen to fill the 1:1 male female quota that makes up a traditional “family.”

Changing (who bakes the) Roles

By Erica Zaiser

A recent article in The Independent discusses the issue of sharing housework in a marriage. Despite the fact that husbands do much more housework than they did 50 years ago, statistics in the UK show that women still do more housework than men. However, given the increase in women working full-time, inequality in household chores has become a larger strain on marriages. This is supported by recent research showing that divorce rates are lower in families where husbands do housework.

One study looking at young unmarried people’s ideal and expected participation in housework and childcare sharing, found that young women expected to end up doing more housework than their husbands. However, men wanted to and expected to split household chores equally. Additionally, there was a difference between people who ideally wanted a career oriented partner versus a family oriented partner. Both men and women looking for a career oriented partner desired to participate more in household chores while those looking for a family oriented partner desired less involvement in household chores and child rearing.

This discrepancy between men and women’s expectations and desires for chore sharing may shed some light on why equality in the home has been slower moving than expected. The authors suggest that this type of research can help promote changes in attitudes towards men’s involvement in household chores. It also provides some evidence that in order for change to occur men need to follow through with their professed desire to be involved in housework but women also may need to change their expectations of doing more work, as men also seem to want equality.

Read more: Men want equality, but women don’t expect it: Young adult’s expectations for participation in household and childcare chores.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

“Our love is dead, according to science!” What does science tell us about marriage?

Can science really predict divorce? Can science really tell you how to select the “right” partner? A recent post by Chris Matyszczyk brought a sarcastic and ironic view about the finding of a marriage study. Chris claimed, according to this study, the perfect wife is five years younger than her husband, is from the same cultural background, and is at least 27 percent smarter than her husband. 

Sounds ridiculous? Yes. If people try to over-generalize certain research findings to general population in any situation by ignoring its specific subjects and applicable context, or make prediction based on correlational studies, it’s possible that they will always obtain disappointing or ridiculous results.  Then, how should we think about the scientific findings on complicated human phenomena, such as marriage? What does science tell us about marriage? 

Gottman & Notarius (2002) reviewed the advances made in the 20th century in studying marriages. The first published research study on marriage dealt with one major research question, “What is fundamentally different about happily and unhappily married couples?”  Following that, with the development of more sophisticated measures and methods, some grim and interesting findings began emerging from research on marriage. For example, in the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, Burgess’ longitudinal study (Burgess & Wallin, 1953) found that, for most couples, marital satisfaction was high right after the wedding and then began a slow, steady, and nontrivial decline thereafter. Another example is Hicks and Platt’s (1970) decade-review article on marital happiness and stability which concluded that “perhaps the single most surprising finding to emerge from research is that children tend to detract from, rather than contribute to marital happiness”. Then, research in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s witnessed the realization of many secular changes in the American family, including the changing role of women, social science’s discovery of violence and incest in the family, and the beginning of the study of cultural variation in marriages et al.

In sum, marriage as an ultimate human condition has been intriguing to both scientists and common people for a long time. However, when we try to understand and interpret research findings on marriage, we need to be very careful about their applicable conditions and limitations. For example, as we know, psychological studies have relied on samples of convenience that have limited generalizability. Although based on the evidence we have so far, marital relations haven’t yet succumbed to delightfully efficient approaches, scientific findings keep shedding light on the mystery of human marriage.

Why your wife should be 27% smarter than you

John M. Gottman, Clifford I. Notarius. ( 2002), Marital Research in the 20th Century and a Research Agenda for the 21st Century. Family Process, 41, 159-197.

When the past comes to haunt

Pop culture is rife with stories of people who blame their negative childhood experiences for their incapacity to stay within relationships or marriages, from the fictional serial killer Dexter who felt it impossible to connect to anyone to Jennifer Aniston’s announcement that her experience of her parents’ divorce made her wary of interpersonal intimacy. But are these mere pop psychology incarnations or are children who experienced traumas any likelier to experience certain marital troubles as adults?

Whisman’s (2006) study on childhood traumas looked at seven different childhood traumas: physical abuse, rape, sexual molestation, serious physical attack, experiences of being threatened with a weapon, life threatening accident, and natural disasters; and the effect of these on marital disruption and marital satisfaction. Physical abuse, rape, and sexual molestation were associated with higher probability of marital dissolution. Lower marital satisfaction was associated with individuals who had experienced rape or sexual molestation. Traumas with assaultive violence, or those where another person directly harmed the child were more likely to be associated with marital disruption and dissatisfaction, as these are seen to be more likely to lead to attachment insecurity (characterized by avoidance, lack of trust) which may then lead to lower marital stability.

Photo: “Goodbye my lover.” by Andii Jetaime, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.

Dexter crosses media lines, captivate fans

Aniston: ‘Childhood Trauma Blighted My Marriage’

Whisman M. A. (2006) Childhood trauma and marital outcomes in adulthood. Personal Relationships

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Marry Up, Men: The Benefits of the Breadwinning Wife

Are you ready to marry a bright single woman with a higher education degree and a higher paid job? A recent Pew Research Center report confirms the rise of the breadwinning wife. In addition, as the result of the recession, men, not women, now receive the greatest economic boost from marriage. This has to do with the fact that women are marrying later, that more of them are earning college degrees and that pay scales for women are rising. An educated, working wife is a valuable asset.

The universality hypothesis is the prediction that, in all contexts, women with a higher economic standing will delay marriage formation. In other words, women’s higher economic standing will decrease their chance of marriage. Some researchers suggest, however, that only in industrialized countries with a high degree of role differentiation by gender does the inverse relationship between women’s economic standing and the chance of marriage exist. For example, Hiromi Ono’s study (2003) showed that a higher level of women’s income decreases the chance of first marriage in a period among Japanese women but increases the chance of first marriage among both American and Swedish women. The results are consistent with the view that when women make economic contributions in industrialized countries with a relatively high degree of role differentiation, they experience stresses and inefficiencies in their lives in ways that conflict with the formation of marriage. In countries with a relatively low degree of role differentiation by gender, however, women of high economic status are more attractive in the marriage market because of the symmetry in the criteria of mate selection between the sexes. Nowadays, the recession, added to longstanding trends which have affected male workers disproportionately, is hastening this cultural shift away from traditional ideals of married families.

Hiromi Ono. (2003). Women’s Economic Standing, Marriage Timing, and Cross-National Contexts of Gender. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65, 275-286.

The case for older and better-paid women.

Alpha Wives: The Trend and the Truth.


I hate you, but don’t ever leave me

Perhaps everyone who has been married long enough to face an inexplicable argument has been in the position of provocateur, yet the experience can feel like the spouse is the one who’s doing the attacking. We unconsciously provoke our spouse and then hope for a certain response, which would allegedly satisfy an internal need or desire.

Of course social psychologists have had a hard time conceptualizing the mechanisms that cause us to behave in this way. While social psychological research on emotions has picked up in the last 30 years, most using a social constructivist approach, only a limited number of articles have tried to deal with the experience for the individual.

In the New York Times Magazine, Elizabeth Weil describes her frustrating experience of seeking therapy for her “happy” marriage. Not surprisingly, a host of therapy sessions were meant to unearth tension between her and her husband, in hopes of building intimacy by discussing and eventually accepting the other’s feelings and emotions. “Marital therapy,” Weil recounts, “seemed akin to chemo: helpful but toxic.”

To know why we sometimes act spiteful when we want our spouse to show their love is something social psychologists may never know. Yet the experience of emotion and the way we end up behaving during the tense times is unforgettable.

Marriage and Parenting: For Better AND For Worse

Couple_01 A recent New York Times Science article documents the efforts that family clinics and parenting groups are making to get fathers more involved in parenting. However, the issue is not only getting them involved, but in getting the mothers to let them be involved in their own ways. The biological connection that a mother and child share is undeniable but, as the article explains, our social and cultural constraints on fathers, and what is expected of them, can often make parenting confusing and unbalanced.

This article comes only a few days after another article on family relationships in the Times Magazine — one documenting the Obamas’ marriage. That article presents the Obamas as committed to one another but also not afraid to have conflicts, experience difficult times, and turn them into “teachable moments.” As a recent article in Social Development argues, conflict can actually be productive — if it occurs under the right circumstances. As the authors explain, both the type of conflict (constructive or coercive?) and the type of relationship in which it occurs (positive or negative?) can help predict the consequences of conflict.

So, whether the task is negotiating a balanced parenting arrangement in a society with fairly prescribed gender (and parental roles) or negotiating a marriage, psychology reminds us that conflict can be productive, and the process of working through the conflict can be beneficial to the relationships in the family.

square-eye Laursen and Hafen (2009). Future directions in the study of close relationships: Conflict is bad (except when it’s not).

square-eye Fathers gain respect from experts (and mothers). New York Times.

 

square-eye The Obamas’ Marriage. New York Times.

Share

Divorce hurts health even after remarriage

man woman hands holding broken heartLove is a miracle and happy romantic relationships might be the best gift for most people in the world. In fairy story, marriage is always the ultimate happy ending of romantic relationship. In reality, about 2.4 million American couples marry each year; during the same time period, half or more of these marriages fail as the result of the departure or death of a partner, most often during the second to sixth years of marriage (US census bureau, 2005). What happens when the sweet dream of marriage falls into pieces?

A new study shows that divorce or losing a spouse to death can exact an immediate and long-lasting toll on mental and physical gains, even after remarriage. Romantic relationships don’t end easily because they involve the investment of one’s time and feelings, the exchange of powerful rewards, and commitment. However, once the romantic relationships end up, people will experience not only the loss of caring, affective support, intimacy, and companionate love, but also extremely stressful and miserable feeling of pain, loneliness, helplessness and hopelessness. Besides, people ignore their health; they’re less likely to go to the doctor; they’re less likely to exercise; they’re sleeping poorly. Remarriage helps people get back on a healthy trajectory, but it puts people back on a healthy trajectory from a lower point, because they didn’t take care of themselves for a long time! Divorce operates like a traumatic event in one’s life; it damages not only your romantic relationship, but also your health.

Speed-DatingMSNBC news: Divorce hurts health even after remarriage

Speed-DatingP. F. Moffitt, N. D. Spence, & R. D. Goldney. (2006). Mental health in marriage: The roles of need for affiliation, sensitivity to rejection, and other factors

Speed-DatingA. Mastekaasa (2006). Is marriage/cohabitation beneficial for young people?