Marital Happiness and Psychological Well-Being Across the Life Course*

Authors

  • Claire M. Kamp Dush,

    Corresponding author
      **Claire M. Kamp Dush is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, The Ohio State University, 171A Campbell Hall, 1787 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 (kamp-dush.1@osu.edu).
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  • Miles G. Taylor,

    Corresponding author
      Miles Taylor is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill CB# 8120, University Square, 123 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 (mtaylor@unc.edu).
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  • Rhiannon A. Kroeger

    Corresponding author
      Rhiannon Kroeger is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology, The Ohio State University, 300 Bricker Hall, 190 N. Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210 (kroeger.36@sociology.osu.edu).
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  • *

    This research was supported by the Institute for the Social Sciences at Cornell University and by a National Institute on Child Health and Human Development grant 1K01HD056238-01 to the first author, and by a National Institute on Aging grant 5F32AG026926-02 to the second author. We thank Frank D. Fincham, Scott M. Stanley, Elaine Wethington, and members of the Cornell University Institute for the Social Sciences Evolving Family Theme Project for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

**Claire M. Kamp Dush is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, The Ohio State University, 171A Campbell Hall, 1787 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 (kamp-dush.1@osu.edu).

Miles Taylor is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill CB# 8120, University Square, 123 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 (mtaylor@unc.edu).

Rhiannon Kroeger is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology, The Ohio State University, 300 Bricker Hall, 190 N. Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210 (kroeger.36@sociology.osu.edu).

Abstract

Abstract: Using data from six waves of the Study of Marital Instability over the Life Course (N = 1,998), we conducted a latent class analysis to test for distinct marital happiness trajectories. We found three distinct marital happiness trajectories: low, middle, and high happiness. Initial levels of life happiness were strongly associated with membership in the marital happiness trajectories and with various demographic and attitude-related control variables. Using fixed effects regression with time-varying covariates, we also found that marital happiness trajectory membership was associated with subsequent changes in both life happiness and depressive symptoms. All respondents experienced a decrease in life happiness between Wave 1 and the end of their observed time in their marriage, but respondents in the high marital happiness trajectory experienced the smallest decline. Respondents in both the high and middle marital happiness trajectories also experienced a decline in depressive symptoms across time. Intervention and policy implications are discussed.

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