मंगलवार, नवंबर 17, 2015

Having kids worse than illness for couples

Having kids causes more relationship conflicts in couples than illnesses or accidents, according to a new study which also found that relationship quality is restored when the kids grow up and move out. Manuela Schicka, along with Eric Widmer, from the University of Geneva in Switzerland, demonstrated that while the various styles of conjugal interactions generally remain stable along the life course, some critical life events and transitions weigh much more on relationship quality than others, sometimes in unexpected ways. Schicka observed 721 heterosexual couples participating in a survey in 1998 and 2011, which generated information on stability and change among couples living in Switzerland. She looked at normative (ie expected and ordinary) transitions like becoming parents, grown children leaving home (the "empty nest" syndrome) and retirement. Researchers also examined non-normative (ie unexpected and unintended) events like socio-professional and health-related problems. To assess relationship quality, they looked at indicators such as relationship satisfaction, thoughts of separation, conflicts of different sorts, and severity of arguments. The styles of conjugal interactions were identified following the typology based on dimensions like cohesion (fusion vs autonomy, openness vs closure) and regulation (level of gendered role differentiation, level of routinisation). The researchers found that couples with a high degree of fusion resisted better to life hazards. They also found that the style of conjugal interactions change very little over the life course. However, some transitions, especially the retirement phase, tend to result in the growth of fusion. This moment in time and the "empty nest" transition appeared as rather beneficial for relationship quality. By contrast, transition to parenthood and socio-professional problems generated more conflicts and a decrease in relationship satisfaction, researchers found. It is also interesting to note that serious illness and injuries do not affect relationship quality. Almost half of the interviewed couples had been confronted to health problems during the study, whereas only 20 per cent faced socio-professional difficulties. Schicka explained that the difference of outcome between work and health related problems by the fact that people are considered as controlling their occupational trajectory, whereas illness and accidents are seen as linked to bad luck and not personal responsibility. It is therefore ironical that the main purpose of matrimonial union, having kids, is a major challenge to couple stability, whereas transitions to the "empty nest" and to retirement succeed in reuniting couples at an age that is generally not perceived as the most romantic one, researchers said.

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