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Husbands' and wives' perceptions of marital fairness across the family life cycle

Peterson, C.C. (1990) Husbands' and wives' perceptions of marital fairness across the family life cycle. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 31 (3). pp. 179-188.

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Marital fairness, or the subjective balance between two spouses’ gains and losses, was evaluated by a cross-sectional sample of 134 married Australian men and women representing five phases in the family life cycle: preparental, childbearing, the full house, launching, and the empty nest. Husbands’ perceptions of their own marital equity described a U-shaped curve across these phases, with significantly more men feeling equitably treated both initially and after children’s departure than during any of the three phases with children in the home. Wives’ perceptions, by contrast, showed little variation with life cycle phase. Overall, a slight majority (52 percent) of husbands and wives perceived their marriages as equitable. Both sexes were inclined to
agree, however, that whenever deviations from strict marital equity arose during family life, these were most likely to overbenefit husbands and to underbenefit wives. Results are discussed in relation to 1) equity theory,
2) marital satisfaction research, and 3) Bernard’s model of the intrinsic sexual inequality of marriage as an institution.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Sage
Copyright: © 1990 Baywood Publishing Co. Inc.
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