Family and Marriage


Familyand Marriage

Marriageschanges with additional roles and responsibilities, that includeschildren rearing. Typically, families move through a sequence ofdevelopmental stages that provide different levels of satisfactionand frustrations. Furthermore, marital satisfaction has been found tochanges over time in the course of marriage with various studiesconducted with an attempt to explain why marriages end up in divorce.Today, divorce and marital distress are issues that greatly impactcouple from all age groups, races, classes, and ethnicities. Indeed,divorce has been considered an easy way out of dissatisfaction inmarriages. Several studies have revealed that marriages play asignificant role in both the physical and psychological well-being ofan individual with happily married couples found stronger compared todivorced people. This paper will analyze changes in maritalsatisfaction, effect of children on marital satisfaction and theimpact of divorce on children. Knowledge of marital satisfactionpattern is crucial and can help to come up with interventions, inorder to lessen the harmful effects of becoming parents on marriage.


  1. Changes in marital satisfaction

Maritalsatisfaction or happiness is essential in marriages and can bedescribed as the extent to which couples assess their level offulfillment with their partners and their marital relationships.Marital satisfaction may be hard to measure because of itssubjectivity nature, since happiness may have different meaning todifferent people. However, most research has used aspects such asfinances, shared goals, time spent together and emotion or physicalcloseness of a couple to measure marital satisfaction. In their bookSussman et al. (1999), couples who become more satisfied and happywith their marital relationships enjoy healthier well-being.Additionally, marriages seem to promote better mental health andassociated with less suicidality. In contrast to couples whoexperience marital strain, their well-being is detrimental and maylead to depression, as well as harm the physical health of a person(Sussman, Steinmetz &amp Peterson, 1999).

Maritalsatisfaction over time has been found to be influenced by particulartransitions such as children launching and the long-term marriagedynamics. Previous studies showed that marital satisfaction tends tofollow a curvilinear path or a U-shaped pattern with satisfaction atpeak during the honeymoon and lower during children rearing, andsubsequently followed by progress later in life. Basically, maritalsatisfaction is predisposed to the timing of parentalresponsibilities. After the arrival of children marital satisfactionis likely to decrease until the children depart from their parents’home. Moreover, care giving to aging parents is also attributed tothe U-shaped curve of marital happiness. However, subsequent studiesin recent decade demonstrate that marital satisfaction seems tosteadily drop over the first ten years of marriage, and subsequentlycontinue to decrease gradually over years. However, not all maritalsatisfaction decline in a linear way and some may follow a dramaticdecrease of increase. Moreover, the decline in marital satisfactionhas been found to vary for men and women. In summary, during midlifecouples experience role overload such as conflicting demands forparenting and working. This may shed light on the lower maritalsatisfaction during midlife compared to better scores in later life. On the other hand, many studies attribute the significant maritalsatisfaction during the first few years of marriage between thehoneymoon and the twenty year mark to marital disenchantment (Sussmanet al, 1999).

  1. effect of children on marital satisfaction

Manystudies have demonstrated that marital satisfaction decline after thebirth of the first child. This decline is linked to individual issuessuch as role strain, tension, stress and increase division of labor.For couples with at least one child, marital satisfaction is lowercompared to the childless couple. Having children is irrevocable andviewed as a stage that brings about a qualitative shift in themarriage. It is at this time that the coping strategies used by thefamily are put to test. In tandem, children can be a source offulfillment, and force that bind together the couple moreover thiscan foster family cohesiveness. However, this evolution toparenthood has the largest effect on marital satisfaction. Forexample, it is commonly observed that with the arrival of children,the husband-wife interaction reduces, the division of laborrigidifies and also a source of role strain and tension, thusreducing the ostensibly marriage quality. As a result of childrenaddition to the marriage, the established relationship has to bequickly reorganized, thus marital satisfaction reduces (Strong,DeVault, &amp Cohen, 2011).

Generally,the supposed marriage quality has a tendency to decline graduallyduring the initial years of marriage for a majority of couples.However, the decline seems more drastic in couples with childrenbecause parenthood may come with increased conflict andmarriage-related disagreements. Therefore, these changes can beextremely stressful and thus contribute to the reduction in maritalsatisfaction. The main reason for the decline in marital satisfactionis attributed to the fact that parents experiencing high levels ofparenting stress, devote less time and emotional resources to themarital relationship, and do not meet their spouse needs.Furthermore, the decline has been reported to vary between men andwomen, with women being more dissatisfied than their mencounterparts. This is for the main reason that woman roles changesdrastically and remain hugely responsible for the children primarycare. The other factor that contributes to the decline in maritalsatisfaction is the division of labor. The egalitarian way ofdivision of labor is expected after the arrival of children, but thisis not practiced. Thus, a gendered division of labor may result inconflicts and increased tension, thus reducing marital satisfaction. Overall, children have a negative effect on marital satisfaction.However, if parents cooperate, divide responsibilities and providesupport to one another, then the parenting stress can be reduced(Strong et al, 2011).

  1. childless families are happier and less likely to break down than families with children

Inmany cultures, mother hood, is used as a basis to define femininity.In the contemporary world, the standard rule is to marry and getchildren. However, in the American society the number of couplesopting to remain childless has increased in the recent decades. Research shows that couples with no children report being happiercompared to parents. This is because they have better finances andstress. However, I disagree with this preposition since childlesscouples are mostly stereotyped and perceived as unnatural, cold andunwomanly, selfish and irresponsible. In fact, we can try to segmentand conclude that voluntarily childless couple may have fun,enjoyment and variety in their lives. They are more pleased with howthey spend the extra time, personal privacy and greater independence.Additionally, voluntarily childless women seem more pleased about thelevel of admiration they get from other women. Moreover, they have ahigh marital satisfaction and agree about life goals together andspend more time with their spouses. However, involuntary childlesscouples seem frustrated and angered compared to their counterpartsbecause of their inability to have children. Therefore, I do notagree with this preposition since not all childless families arehappier and less likely to break down than families with children(Strong, DeVault, &amp Cohen, 2011).


  1. the main aspects of divorce process

Inrecent decades, divorce rates have increased globally. According toscholars, young adults married for averagely seven years and haveyoung children are at the highest risk for divorce. In the course ofmarriage, the risk of divorce is not constant and some marriages maydissolve soon after the wedding, with its possibility likely toincrease through the initial years. Generally, as maritalsatisfaction declines the risk of divorce is highest between thefourth year and the seventh year. However, later the risk of divorcestarts to decline gradually with the accumulation of investments.Typically, couples divorces because they believe that their marriageslack emotional fulfillment, compatibility and communication. In fact,women have a tendency to provide longer lists of complaints comparedto men and regularly they initiate the breakup. Today, divorce isviewed as an individual right when couples feel personallyunfulfilled in their marital relationship (Barber, 2000).

Consequently,the divorce experience is a life-transforming event to the partiesinvolved and this includes children. Most couples report incidencesof marital distress for the initial few years. Going through adivorce can be termed as a genuine crisis. Additionally, divorcetrauma may contribute to the rise in coercive exchanges betweenparents and their children. This in turn has an undesirable effect onchildrearing and parents may offer less support and becomeinconsistency in the quality of their upbringing. The quality ofrelationships between children and their parents is reported todecline with a high degree of discord experienced shortly afterdivorce. However, despite the anger and resentment, ex-spouse cancollaborate in joint parenting, settle their differences, and desistfrom exposing their children to violence and protect them from theemotional and social challenges associated with divorce (Barber,2000).

  1. Short-term and long-term impact of divorce on young children and adolescents?

Severallongitudinal studies have illustrated that the well-being andrelationship between adolescents and their parents are negativelyinfluenced by divorce. In fact, the initial period of separationcomes as a shocker to a majority of children and young adults becausemost are unaware of the divorce or separation, thus unprepared.Actually, most children react with intense shock, sorrow, anger, anddisbelief. On the other hand, divorce has a negative impact on theperformance of school going children as well as their peerrelationships. The negative sociological impact of the maritaldisruption on children includes loss of role models and guiding andsupporting agents during their significant years of theirdevelopment.Furthermore, children from divorced families performworse in school and are more likely to drop out of schools. This isprimarily attributed to the decrease motivation. Teenagers mayexperience depression, anger and become anxious about their futurerelationships. Conversely, divorce may lead to economic constraintswhere parents pay less attention and to an extent even neglect theirchildren. However, the initial responses of children and young adultsto the divorce may disappear over a short period and this may have nopsychological adjustments later in life. However, evidence shows thatmarital disruption is likely to affect the later patterns of familyformation as well as attitudes about marriage and childbearing onchildren (Barber, 2000).

Onthe other hand, the long term effects of divorce on children andadolescents includes, antisocial behaviors where they have problemsrelating to their peers, parents, and may exhibit signs of anxiety,depression, and low self-esteem. The psychological effect of divorceon these children may depend on the various risk and protectivefactors. For example, in a situation where the divorce involvedhigher levels of conflict, this seems to negatively influence thepsychological adjustment of the children. Alternatively, protectivefactors that include having a good relationship with a caregiver orat least one parent support and parental warmth may help to reducethe consequences of marital disruption to children both in theshort-term and long-term basis.

  1. Whether it is a good idea for a family in trouble to stay together for the sake of children.

Asa result of negative outcomes experienced by children from divorcedfamilies, many people have become uncertain of whether couples shouldstick together for the children’s sake. Is a hostile marriagebetter for children than divorce? All families are dissimilar and ina home where there is increased conflict, stress and hostility,actually marital disruption may be a better option for the partiesinvolved. Obviously, it is wiser for couples to divorce than continueraising their children in a negative home environment. Severalresearch provides evidence that children from high-conflict familiesfared well after divorce compared to when the couple stayed married.Indeed, divorce helped to improve the self-esteem for girls fromthese kinds of families. Despite the fact, that the process isdifficult and distressing for the children and they may experienceemotional and behavioral challenges initially, it seems that mostchildren adapt fairly well within two years after the divorceprocess. In contrast, low-conflict families divorce has a negativeimpact on the children. Multiple studies reveal that the behaviorproblems increase in children from low-conflict families and they donot comprehend why their parents had to divorce. However, in light ofthe negative impact of divorce on children, it may be better for theparents to avoid marital disruption if they can thrive in a lukewarmmarriage for the sake of children (Barber, 2000).


Inconclusion, marital satisfaction in marriage has been found toimprove after the couple has stayed together for a long time.Scientists had long believed in the U-shaped pattern for maritalsatisfaction but several cross-sectional studies later reveal that bymidlife when the marriage is at its low, most marriages in conflictmay end up in divorce. Alternatively, having children have been foundnot to improve marriages. Clearly, children affect the dailyinteraction of their parents. However, when the children depart,marital satisfaction seems to increase or at least there is nodecline because parents have fewer roles and duties, moreover lessstress and strain. The couple now has time to pay attention to themarital relationship, and this leads to increased maritalsatisfaction as couple spend more time together.

Today,the society has become more tolerant to divorce. Despite its damagesto permanently decline the family structure this paper has analyzedthat in high-conflict families, marital disruption may be a betteroption for the parties involved rather than raising children in anegative home environment. Evidence show that from high-conflictfamilies fared well after divorce compared to when the couplecontinues staying married. Increased failed marriages in the currentsociety have lead to economical and emotional challenges, especiallyto women and children.


Barber,N. (2000). Whyparents matter: Parental investment and child outcomes.Westport, Conn.: Bergin &amp Garvey.

Strong,B., DeVault, C., &amp Cohen, T. F. (2011). Themarriage and family experience: Intimate relationships in a changingsociety.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning

Sussman,M. B., Steinmetz, S. K., &amp Peterson, G. W. (1999). Handbookof marriage and the family.New York: Plenum Press.