Understanding the development of low-income marriages : investigating the antecedents and outcomes of marital functioning
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Change in marital satisfaction is a salient research topic for social scientists, especially given the association between marital functioning and adult and child well-being. Scholars have begun to recognize a decline in marital satisfaction is avoidable for the majority of couples, and recent work has demonstrated the antecedents and outcomes associated with different marital experiences. However, most work has used White, middle-class couples. Thus, it is unclear if these patterns replicate for socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, what resources are associated with different relational pathways, and if relationship functioning is associated with psychological functioning. Using three waves of data from a sample of low-income newlywed couples in the Supporting Healthy Marriages project, I identified three classes of couples. The majority of spouses reported stable, high relationship functioning during the early years of marriage. Gender differences emerged, with husbands reporting more stable marital functioning than wives. Guided by the Vulnerability-Stress-Adaptation model, I also found individual (family-of-origin experiences), dyadic (e.g., perceptions of support), and structural (e.g., neighborhood safety) factors were associated with different marital experiences. Last, I found that change in marital satisfaction was influential to change in psychological distress. These results advance scholarship on the inequalities and resilience factors prevalent in low-income populations.
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