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Prenatal Expectations and Marital Satisfaction Over the Transition to Parenthood.

Publication Year: 
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Lawrence, Erika
Nylen, Kimberly
Cobb, Rebecca J.
Journal Article
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Associations among prenatal expectations, the extent to which expectations were confirmed or disconfirmed, and trajectories of marital satisfaction over the transition to parenthood were assessed 7-11 times in a sample of newlywed couples. Piecewise growth curve analyses were conducted to examine levels of marital satisfaction at the beginning of marriage and rates of change over 2 periods: from the beginning of marriage through the 3rd trimester of pregnancy and from the 3rd trimester of pregnancy through 18 months postpartum. Postpartum marital decline was greater than decline from marriage through pregnancy. Spouses who were more satisfied at the beginning of marriage reported higher expectations. There was marked variability in the extent to which prenatal expectations were confirmed; some expectations were unfulfilled, others were met, and still others were surpassed. Associations between the extent to which expectations were confirmed and rates of change in marital decline differed as a function of the specific type of expectation. Implications for understanding vulnerability and resiliency in couples negotiating the transition to parenthood are discussed. (Author abstract)

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