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Marriage Expectations Among African American Couples in Early Adulthood: A Dyadic Analysis


Department of Sociology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602 (


Using Family and Community Health Study data consisting of 168 unmarried, primarily African American couples, the current study sought to understand the dyadic interplay among school, work, and partner-specific marriage expectations in early adulthood. Drawing on the economic prospects, adult transitions, and work–family literatures, the authors hypothesized and found ample support that expectations to marry a romantic partner were linked not only to one's own school and work-related experiences but also to those of a partner. These associations held while controlling for relationship satisfaction, general views of marriage, and other covariates that have been posited to explain racial inequalities in relationship and marriage patterns. Furthermore, the authors found that actor covariates of marital expectations differed from partner covariates, a finding that highlights the advantages of dyadic analyses in helping researchers understand marriage as both a developmental and an interpersonal process.