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OnePlusOne Research and Policy Digest – July 2015

By OnePlusOne, 13 July 2015 Affairs, Behaviour change, Children, Cohabitation, Communication, Conflict, Divorce, Early intervention, Employment, Fathers, Grandparents, Health, Legal, Marriage, Mental health, Money, New baby, New parents, Parenting, Postnatal depression, Poverty, Pregnancy, Separation, Sex, Strengthening relationships, Stress, Transitions, Work-life balance

Journal Articles

Dyadic Coping Mediates the Association of Sanctification With Marital Satisfaction and Well-Being.

Rusu, Petruta P., Hilpert, Peter, Beach, Steven R. H,; Turliuc, Maria N. and Bodenmann, Guy

Some studies suggest that the sanctification of marriage, or considering marriage sacred, is related to positive marital outcomes (e.g., marital satisfaction, conflict resolution). However, the mechanisms explaining this association have not been sufficiently investigated. In the current study, we analyzed supportive dyadic coping as a potential mediator of the relation between marriage sanctity and marital satisfaction, as well as between marriage sanctity and well-being. Self-reported data were collected from 215 Romanian couples (N = 430) belonging to the Christian Orthodox religion. Analyses using the common fate model indicate that supportive dyadic coping mediates both the relation between sanctification and marital satisfaction, as well as the relation between sanctification and well-being. These findings suggest that sanctification increases support provided to the partner, which in turn is positively related to marital satisfaction and well-being at the dyadic level. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)

What’s Your Motivation to Be Pregnant? Relations Between Motives for Parenthood and Women’s Prenatal Functioning.

Brenning, Katrijn, Soenens, Bart and Vansteenkiste, Maarten

Prenatal psychological adjustment is a critical predictor of postnatal maternal adjustment, which, in turn, relates to a child’s psychological development. As such, it is important to examine possible correlates of women’s psychological functioning during pregnancy. Grounded in self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000), the present research investigated the link between women’s motives for having a child and prenatal maternal psychological adjustment. Specifically, in a sample of 208 pregnant women, we examined the relation between women’s intensity (i.e., quantity) and quality of motivation for having a child and both women’s social adjustment (i.e., relationship satisfaction) and personal well-being (i.e., vitality and depressive symptoms). Further, we examined psychological need satisfaction as an explanatory mechanism underlying these associations. Results showed that both intensity and quality of motivation related, either directly or indirectly via psychological need satisfaction, to women’s personal well-being and relationship satisfaction during pregnancy.

We-ness and the Cultivation of Wisdom in Couple Therapy

Karen Skerrett;jsessionid=4BD4BB984EC06590E976739403636AC4.f02t01?systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+disrupted+on+11th+July+2015+at+10%3A00-16%3A00+BST+%2F+05%3A00-11%3A00+EDT+%2F+17%3A00-23%3A00++SGT++for+essential+maintenance.++Apologies+for+the+inconvenience

Wisdom has played a key role in the attempt to understand the positive nature of human behavior since the time of Aristotle. In the past decade, psychology and related fields have experienced an expanding interest in the empirical and theoretical pursuit of wisdom. The relational dimension of wisdom has received less attention, although it may be viewed as embedded in the practice of all couple therapists. This article integrates previous work on resilience and positive functioning in committed partnerships and proposes relational wisdom to be a master virtue of relationship development, one that can be cultivated across the lifespan of the partnership. The aspects of relational wisdom such as self-reflection, attunement to self and other, balancing conflicting partner aims, the interpretation of rules and principles in light of the uniqueness of each situation and the capacity to learn from experience point to couples therapy as an ideal context for such skill building. Wisdom is built through dialog and the resulting individual and couple stories can serve as touchstones to what is most precious and vital in the relationship as well as guides for action through challenges and conflict. A clinical case is described to illustrate selected aspects of relational wisdom and implications for therapeutic practice.

The “Cougar” Phenomenon: An Examination of the Factors That Influence Age-Hypogamous Sexual Relationships Among Middle-Aged Women

Milaine Alarie* andJason T. Carmichael

Using data from the National Survey of Family Growth, the authors considered the prevalence of the “cougar” phenomenon and the characteristics of middle-aged women who reported having sexual relationships with younger men in the past 12 months. They found that roughly 13% of sexually active women between ages 35 and 44 had slept with a man who was at least 5 years younger. Contrary to conventional assumptions, the results show that women with low incomes and those who self-identify as “other race” (not White or Black) are more likely to be in an age-hypogamous sexual relationship. Relative to all other relationship statuses, previously married women are the most likely to choose younger partners. Finally, the results suggest that age-hypogamous relationships are not simply “flings”; a majority of them last at least 2 years, and a sizable share of “cougars” are married to their younger partners. These results highlight the need to reconsider our conventional understanding of women’s sexual relationships at midlife.

Dimensional Latent Structure of Relationship Quality: Results of Three Representative Population Samples

Sören Kliem, Heather M. Foran, Johannes Beller, Kurt Hahlweg, Yve Stöbel-Richter andElmar Brähler

A fundamental question facing every latent construct (e.g., relationship quality) is whether the construct is categorical or dimensional in nature. The authors analyzed the latent status of relationship quality in 3 large general German population samples using the Partnership Questionnaire (PFB), the Quality of Relationship Inventory, and the short form of the PFB (PFB-K; N1 = 1,330, N2 = 1,494, N3 = 1,390). They applied 3 widely used taxometric methods: (a) MAXEIG, (b) MAMBAC, and (c) L-Mode. Simulation data were created to evaluate the comparison curve fit index values, which were below 0.5 across the 3 German population samples, supporting a dimensional solution. Hence, in the current study the latent structure of relationship quality encompassed differences in degree rather than kind. Implications of the dimensional latent status of relationship quality, as well as causes of the discrepant findings with previous taxometric studies, are discussed.

Physiological Linkage in Couples and Its Implications for Individual and Interpersonal Functioning: A Literature Review.

Timmons, Adela C.; Margolin, Gayla; Saxbe, Darby E.

Do partners’ levels of physiological arousal become linked in close relationships? The term physiological linkage describes covariation between people in their moment-to-moment physiological states. The current review presents a conceptual framework to guide research on linkage in romantic relationships and discusses the potential implications of being linked. Evidence of linkage was found across a broad range of physiological indices and in a variety of contexts, including during laboratory-based conflict and in daily life. Four hypotheses regarding how linkage relates to individual and interpersonal functioning are evaluated: (a) coactivation of the sympathetic nervous system or the hypothalamic–pituitary adrenal axis is “bad,” (b) moderate physiological linkage is “just right,” (c) physiological linkage is problematic if the individual or couple is overloaded, and (d) the implications of physiological linkage depend on the emotional context. We found partial support for the first hypothesis and determined that more research is needed to evaluate the remaining hypotheses. Linkage in cortisol was negatively associated with relationship satisfaction; but, at the same time, linkage in multiple systems was positively associated with indices of relationship connectedness, such as the amount of time spent together and the ability to identify the emotions of one’s partner. These results suggest that linkage may confer benefits but also may put couples at risk if they become entrenched in patterns of conflict or stress. With research in this area burgeoning in recent years, this review indicates that linkage is a promising construct with applications for interventions targeting individual health and couple functioning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)

Neurophysiological Correlates of Children’s Processing of Interparental Conflict Cues.

Schermerhorn, Alice C.; Bates, John E.; Puce, Aina; Molfese, Dennis L.

This study builds on the literature on child exposure to marital conflict by testing whether mother-reported marital conflict exposure predicts a child’s P3 event-related potential (ERP) components generated in response to viewing quasi–marital conflict photos. We collected ERP data from 23 children (9–11 years of age) while presenting photos of actors pretending to be a couple depicting interpersonal anger, happiness, and neutrality. To elicit the P3 ERP, stimuli were presented using an oddball paradigm, with angry and happy photos presented on 20% of trials each and neutral photos presented on the remaining 60% of trials. Angry photos were the target in 1 block, and happy photos were the target in the other block. In the angry block, children from high-conflict homes had shorter reaction times (RTs) on happy trials than on neutral trials, and children from low-conflict homes had shorter RTs on angry trials than on happy trials. Also within the angry block, children generated larger P3s on angry trials than on happy trials, regardless of exposure to conflict. Further, children from high-conflict homes generated larger P3s on angry trials and on happy trials compared with neutral trials, but children from low-conflict homes did not. Results are discussed in terms of implications for children’s processing of displays of interpersonal emotion. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved

Relationship Stigma and Relationship Outcomes in Interracial and Same-Sex Relationships: Examination of Sources and Buffers.

Rosenthal, Lisa; Starks, Tyrel J.

Interracial and same-sex romantic relationships are more common and socially accepted in the United States than ever before; yet, stigmatization of these relationships persists, with consequences for relationship dynamics. We conducted an online survey study with adults living in the United States in interracial and same-sex relationships to examine associations of relationship stigma from family, friends, and public with several relationship outcomes (i.e., investment, satisfaction, intimate partner aggression victimization and perpetration, commitment, intimacy, trust, passion, love, sexual communication, and sexual satisfaction), as well as the potential buffering roles of egalitarianism and dyadic coping. Regression analyses with 480 participants support that above and beyond individually experienced discrimination and other well-known predictors of relationship outcomes, relationship stigma from friends in particular was associated with lower relationship commitment, trust, love, and sexual communication, as well as greater odds of intimate partner aggression victimization. Egalitarianism and dyadic coping moderated some of the associations of relationship stigma from family, friends, and public with relationship outcomes, supporting their potential roles as buffers. These findings suggest many avenues for future research and implications for clinicians working with interracial and same-sex couples, individuals in those couples, and their families. Given increasing prevalence of interracial and same-sex relationships and marriages, more work should continue to explore these couples’ experiences and how best to support them

Trajectories of Fathers’ Psychological Distress Across the Early Parenting Period: Implications for Parenting.

Giallo, Rebecca; Cooklin, Amanda; Brown, Stephanie; Christensen, Daniel; Kingston, Dawn; Liu, Cindy H.; Wade, Catherine; Nicholson, Jan M.

Fathers’ parenting behavior is a likely key mechanism underlying the consistent associations between paternal mental health difficulties and poor emotional–behavioral outcomes for children. This study investigates the association between fathers’ mental health trajectories and key parenting behaviors (warmth, hostility, consistency) spanning the first 8–9 years postpartum. Secondary analyses of 5 waves of data from 2,662 fathers participating in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children were conducted. Latent growth class analysis was used to identify distinct trajectories of fathers’ distress (Kessler-6; Kessler et al., 2003), and latent growth models estimated parenting warmth, hostility, and consistency. Multiple group analyses were conducted to describe and compare the course of parenting behaviors for fathers assigned to the distress trajectories identified. Two distinct classes of fathers were identified based on the trajectories of distress: minimal distress (92%) and persistent and increasing distress (8%). The latter group reported significantly lower parenting warmth when their children were 8–9 years and lower consistency and higher hostility across all study intervals. The postnatal and early parenting period is a critical time for the development of parenting behaviors that are important for children’s development. Engagement and support for fathers around well-being and parenting is vital for promoting optimal family and child developmental outcomes.

Effectiveness and Moderators of the Preventive Intervention Kids in Divorce Situations: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

Pelleboer-Gunnink, Hannah A.; Van der Valk, Inge E.; Branje, Susan J. T.; Van Doorn, Muriel D.; Deković, Maja

Children of divorced parents have an increased risk of a variety of problems in comparison to children from intact families. Therefore, several intervention programs have been developed directed at children of divorced parents. Yet, empirical data on the effectiveness of these interventions are limited. This study evaluated the school-based, child-directed prevention program Kids In Divorce Situations (KIDS) using a randomized controlled trial. The sample consisted of 156 children randomly assigned at the school level into an experimental (80 children) and control condition (76 children). In addition, 131 mothers and 76 fathers participated in the study. Four assessments took place: a pretest, a posttest, and two follow-up assessments conducted 6 months and 1 year after finishing KIDS. Latent growth analyses demonstrated that the intervention significantly reduced child-reported emotional problems and enhanced child-reported communication with the father and mother-reported communication with the child. The effect sizes ranged from .30–.63. Few moderation effects of gender, time since divorce, or perceived parental conflict on the intervention effects were found. After parental divorce, a limited school-based intervention for children can be efficacious in promoting children’s emotional well-being and parent-child communication.

The Life Satisfaction Advantage of Being Married and Gender Specialization

Malgorzata Mikucka

This investigation examined whether the life satisfaction advantage of married over unmarried persons decreased over the last three decades, and whether the changes in the contextual gender specialization explained this trend. The author used representative data from the World Values Survey–European Values Study (WVS–EVS)-integrated data set for 87 countries (N = 292,525) covering a period of 29 years. Results showed that the life satisfaction advantage of being married decreased among men but not among women. The analysis did not support the hypothesis that contextual gender specialization shaped the observed trend. Only in developed countries the declining contextual specialization correlated with smaller life satisfaction advantage of being married. This evidence suggests that the advantages of marriage are greater under conditions that support freedom of choice rather than economic necessity.

Research/ Statistics

Population Estimates by Marital Status and Living Arrangements – England and Wales, 2002 to 2014–2002-to-2014/stb-marital-status-and-liv-ar.html

Latest ONS release. Key findings:

In 2014, 51.5% of people aged 16 and over in England and Wales were married or civil partnered while 33.9% were single, never married.

Between 2002 and 2014 the proportions of people aged 16 and over who were single or divorced increased but the proportions who were married or widowed decreased.

The increase between 2002 and 2014 in the percentage of the population who were divorced was driven by those aged 45 and over, with the largest percentages divorced at ages 50 to 64 in 2014.

In 2014 around 1 in 8 adults in England and Wales were living in a couple but not currently married or civil partnered; cohabiting is most common in the 30 to 34 age group.

More women (18.9%) than men (9.8%) were not living in a couple having been previously married or civil partnered; this is due to larger numbers of older widowed women than men in England and Wales in 2014.

Marriage, cohabitation and mental health

Paul Amato

A keynote address from Paul Amato:

The research described in this article involves one part of that larger program. The current report draws on a large, longitudinal dataset in the United States – the National Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health – and addresses how the transition to cohabitation and marriage affects men’s and women’s reports of depressive symptoms and thoughts of suicide.

Childcare Costs Survey 2015

The Family and Childcare Trust has released a report on childcare availability and management, finding that a quarter of local authorities fail to monitor childcare places in England, which it states is putting government childcare plans in “significant jeopardy”.

Men, Women Differ on Morals of Sex, Relationships

Gallup Poll

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans are finding more behaviors or social issues “morally acceptable” than they have in the past, but men and women still differ on several issues, notably those related to sex and relationships. Pornography is the most divisive, with 43% of men finding it morally acceptable versus 25% of women. Notable gender gaps also exist in how men and women view divorce, having a child out of wedlock, polygamy and extramarital affairs.


Policy/ Practice

Family and Relationship Support: Question

A question raised in the House of Lords and the following debate is detailed in this link. Interesting for getting an overview of the political situation.

Organisation, services and reach of children’s centres: Evaluation of children’s centres in England (ECCE, Strand 3)

This report forms part of the national evaluation of children’s centres in England (ECCE) research study. The evaluation looks at the management, organisation and programmes offered in the centres. As one of our possible ‘side-doors’, it is useful for us to be aware of the changes that are happening in this area. I have linked to the brief report but full report is available.

The taxation of families – international comparisons 2013

Care Research Paper

CARE’s taxation of families 2013 report looks at how UK families on various incomes fare in the tax and benefits system compared with their counterparts from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).


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