Hard Living, Perceived Entitlement to a Great Marriage, and Marital Dissolution

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Using the two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), we examine the effects on marital dissolution of couple's gender attitudes, perceived unfairness, marital disagreements, and relationship alternatives, exploring whether these dimensions of marriage influence marital dissolution, net of serious forms of hardship commonly noted in divorce research. With event history methods, we find that husbands', but not wives', perceived disagreements and alternatives are associated with higher odds of marital dissolution, though couples' marital happiness strongly mediates the effects of husbands' dissatisfaction. Wives' traditional attitudes are associated with lower odds and husbands' with higher odds of marital dissolution. We find no significant effects of unfairness perceptions on divorce. A nonviolent relationship is associated with lower odds of marital dissolution, but accumulated assets and debt and husbands' drug or alcohol abuse are not associated significantly with marital dissolution. Our analysis contributes to divorce research by demonstrating the importance of gender attitudes and low physical conflict and by showing that instances of perceived dissatisfaction might not matter for couples as much as marital happiness as an influence on divorce.



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