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Marital Quality and Spouses' Marriage Work With Close Friends and Each Other

Authors

  • Heather M. Helms,

    1. Department of Human Development and Family Studies, 228 Stone Building, P.O. Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170 (H_helmse@uncg.edu).
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  • Ann C. Crouter,

    1. Department of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, 105 White Building, University Park, PA 16802-6504.
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  • Susan M. McHale

    1. Department of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, 105 White Building, University Park, PA 16802-6504.
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Abstract

Through in-home interviews with 142 married couples, we explored how husbands' and wives' marriage work with close friends and one another was linked to their perceptions of marital quality. Results showed that husbands engaged in more marriage work with their wives than with close friends, whereas wives engaged in similar levels of marriage work with their close friends and husbands. For wives, marriage work with their spouses was found to moderate the relationship between marital quality and marriage work with friends. At low levels of marriage work with their spouses, wives' marriage work with friends was negatively related to their reports of marital love and positively related to reports of ineffective arguing. In contrast, at high levels of marriage work with their husbands, no significant relationship was found between wives' marriage work with friends and marital quality for wives. Findings underscore the role of spouses' friendships and suggest that the strength of spouses' ties to one another is linked to the social context they and their close friends create.

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