Week 11: Relationship Breakdown, Loss And Repair Flashcards Preview

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Why is it difficult to study divorce?

- takes time for marriages to dissolve
- need to track from newly-weds over many years
- sampling issues - who agrees to participate in the study?


Divorce stats

US - 50%
Aus - 35%
Marriages less likely to break up than co-habiting couples
Engaged co-habitors - better grounds


Early research - Levinger (1967) - why didn't people get divorced - external barriers model

- economic barriers - nb w increasing financial independence
- when both financial ind. each may feel less guilty about ending the rship knowing it won't cause financial hardship
- legal barriers - before no-fault
- religious barriers
- children
- social barriers vary
Implications for Gay and Lesbian
- more likely to break up than het. married as they are less constrained by external barriers


Current predictors of divorce

- personal: age, education, income, religion
- being younger strongest predictor of div. within the first 5 yrs
- rships: hist of divorce, not poolin finances
- loose community connections: less support for married couples
- more positive attitudes towards divorce
- 'casual' cohabitation: increases likelihood of divorce
- witnessing parental divorce: shapes expectations and marital behaviors


Changing marriage expectations

- higher expectations "a path to personal fulfillment": play, exciting, passionate
- changing gender roles: economic ind. for w, w expecting more domestic work from husbands - makes wives happier, husbands less happy.


Processes of Adaption in Intimate Relationships (PAIR) project (Huston, 2000). Marriages fail for 3 reasons:

1) the enduring dynamics model: basic problems exist before the marriage and continue
2) emergent distress model: problems arise after marriage and couple can't resolve them
3) disillusionment model: unrealistic positivity at the beginning gives way to disappointment

Strongest predictor:
- disillusionment model: more rapid, the more likely to divorce
- fits with the evolutionary model of fading passion and relationship break-up, if companionate love has not developed


A divorce gene?

- identical twin 5x more likely to divorce if twin has. Even if separated at birth
- divorce-prone personality: high neuroticism the most consistent predictor


Interdependence approach

- commitment to stay is strongest when dependence is high (even if rewards are low)
- satisfy needs elsewhere?
- attractive alternatives?
- if satisfaction and dependence are low an attractive alternatives are available, divorce is more likely


Couple behaviors

- 3 most consistent predictors were infidelity, jealousy, and reckless spending (Amato & Rogers, 1997)
- vulnerability-stress-adaption model (Karney & Bradbury, 1995)
• some ppl enter a rship with pre-existing vulnerabilities that make it difficult for them to cope adaptively to stressful events, including marital conflict


Divorce initiator behaviour

- ambiguous attempts to communicate dissatisfaction
- escalation
- decrease interaction w partner
- violate rship rules: e.g. Criticize partner in public; infidelity)


Initiator advantages

Have time to
- reconstruct rship mentally
- plan exit strategy
- develop another rship (transitional partner)
- construct an account of breakup
The more victims attribute the cause of the break-up to their partners, the less adjustment they experience


Cascading towards divorce

Gottman (1994) - distance and isolation cascade model of marital breakdown. 4 questionnaire subscales;
1) flooding: emotional outbursts that lead to withdrawal
2) loneliness: increasing isolation and belief that problems are too hard to resolve;
3) work things out? May seem too difficult and hopeless
4) parallel lives?
Gutted rship: meshed interactions are severed and interdependence decreases


Duck's Model

- breakups are composed of several different but connected phases
- the model takes account of partners' initial internal dissatisfaction before communicating w each other; contributions from network members; and concerns for own and other impressions and evaluations of self and rship
1) intra-psychic phase: one or both partners becomes distressed about rship - neg internal talk - complain to family and friends
2) dyadic phase: partners try to confront and talk through their feelings with one another - interpersonal mess (conflict,anger) may be shock and pain for unaware partner
3) social phase: if break up; have to tell other ppl and get network support (may hinder or help)
4) grave-dressing phase: practicalities and also emotional - constructing an account of the relationship that saves face and aids recovery


Responding to break-up (Sbarra & Emery, 2005)

Emotional trajectories
- individuals who had broken up with their partners reported sig more ANGER and less love, with feelings of love decreasing more slowly than sadness, which decreased more slowly than feelings of anger
Lingering emotions
- participants felt more love and sadness on days when they spoke to their ex-partners
- problem for separated and divorced ind. who need to maintain contact with one another in order to share joint responsibilities
Individual differences
- attachment security was neg ass. With anger and positively ass with relief; securely attached participants also experienced sig faster rates of decline in sadness over time
- more anxiously attached individuals have more difficulty recovering from post-breakup sadness than less anxiously attached individuals


Grief as a response to loss

1) protest and distress; ppl feel shock, numb, disbelief. As ppl see loss is real: intense pain and yearning.
- compulsion to search; may hallucinate; suicidal behaviors
2) despair: anger, sadness, aloneness, anxiety
- intense physical symptoms: appetite, sleep
- increases vulnerability to illness
- function?:
• poss no adaptive function (disorganized)
• loss of attachment, brings interruptions. Appraised as important and neg; thus fresh pain and distress
3) re-organisation: re-involvement and new attachments
- not forgotten, lessen over time
- some may grow via new perspectives and increase empathy

Only way to avoid grief is don't attach; in dev. Nations mothers may delay attaching.


Bereavement and grief

- suicide risk higher for widowed than married ppl
- widowed men 66x more likely to kill themselves than married men; w 6x
- generally increase risk of ill health and death 6 months after bereavement


Time-line of grief

- most move through grief within 18-24 months, but strong individual differences
- strong grief that lasts longer than a few months is now listed in DSM as a disorder: how long is too long?


Bereavement outcomes and patterns

- 2 characteristics of a marital rship ass with poor bereavement outcome
• dependence and ambivalence
5 clear patterns
• resilient
• chronic grief
• common grief
• depressed-improved
• chronic depression


The role of culture

- mourning practices differ markedly over time and place: crying common, self-injury, anger, rituals, 'cleansings'


Other forms of grief

- forgotten grief (others) following miscarriage and still-birth
- disenfranchised grief (loss of pets, "illegitimate" attachment figures e.g. gay lovers)


Long-term marriages

100 couples married over 45 yrs
- valued marriage and saw it as a long-term commitment
- humour helpful
- similar enough to agree about most things
- genuinely liked their spouses as enjoyed spending time with them
What else works
- make partner feel special and cared for: m need 'positive affirmations' more than w
- accept conflict and be constructively
- meaningful conversation
- celebrate positive


Relationship therapy. Various approaches:

- Behavioural
- cognitive behavioural
- emotion-focused
- insight-oriented
- like the therapist and want change most important


Cartensen's (1991) socio-emotional selectivity, compared w younger ppl:

Older ppl tend to have fewer, but closer, friends