Attachment, marital satisfaction, and divorce during the first fifteen years of parenthood

Authors

  • GILAD HIRSCHBERGER,

    Corresponding author
    1. Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya
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    • Gilad Hirschberger, New School of Psychology, Inter-disciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya; Sanjay Srivastava, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon; Penny Marsh, Carolyn Pape Cowan, and Philip A. Cowan, Department of Psychology and Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley.

  • SANJAY SRIVASTAVA,

    1. University of Oregon
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    • Gilad Hirschberger, New School of Psychology, Inter-disciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya; Sanjay Srivastava, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon; Penny Marsh, Carolyn Pape Cowan, and Philip A. Cowan, Department of Psychology and Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley.

  • PENNY MARSH,

    1. University of California, Berkeley
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    • Gilad Hirschberger, New School of Psychology, Inter-disciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya; Sanjay Srivastava, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon; Penny Marsh, Carolyn Pape Cowan, and Philip A. Cowan, Department of Psychology and Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley.

  • CAROLYN PAPE COWAN,

    1. University of California, Berkeley
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    • Gilad Hirschberger, New School of Psychology, Inter-disciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya; Sanjay Srivastava, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon; Penny Marsh, Carolyn Pape Cowan, and Philip A. Cowan, Department of Psychology and Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley.

  • PHILIP A. COWAN

    1. University of California, Berkeley
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    • Gilad Hirschberger, New School of Psychology, Inter-disciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya; Sanjay Srivastava, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon; Penny Marsh, Carolyn Pape Cowan, and Philip A. Cowan, Department of Psychology and Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley.


  • The studies described here were funded by RO1-NIMH RO1-31109 to the last two authors.

Gilad Hirschberger, New School of Psychology, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, P.O. Box 167 Herzliya 46150 Israel, e-mail: hirschberger@idc.ac.il.

Abstract

This study examines 2 overlapping longitudinal samples of U.S. couples with children, covering a period of 15 years after the first child's birth. The first sample extended from the pregnancy with a first child until that child was 5.5 years old and the second from ages 4.5 to 14.5. Growth curve analyses revealed that marital satisfaction declined over 15 years for both husbands and wives. Attachment security measured in the second sample was associated with greater marital satisfaction but did not buffer against declines in marital satisfaction over time. Husbands' lower initial level of marital satisfaction measured around the first child's transition to school was the only significant predictor of marital dissolution. The discussion emphasizes theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

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