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Keywords:

  • division of labor;
  • housework;
  • life course;
  • marital quality;
  • timing of parenthood;
  • transition to parenthood

Using a sample of 180 dual-earner, nondivorced couples, this study explored how the timing of parenthood and the division of housework are related to husbands' and wives' marital quality during the childrearing years. Hypothesized to be “at risk” for negative marital evaluations were early first-birth couples who divided tasks in a less-traditional manner and delayed first-birth couples who divided tasks in a traditional manner. Analyses revealed that husbands and wives in the “risk” groups evaluated their marriages more negatively, suggesting that congruence between behaviors, background, and attitudes is important for marital quality. In addition, early first-birth couples evaluated their marriages more poorly than did the “on time” or “delayed” couples. Wives' gender-typed attitudes emerged as a significant covariate in the analyses but did not account for the effects of the timing of parenthood and the timing of parenthood × the division of housework interactions.