Relationship satisfaction, emotional distress,and relationship dissolution: : a population-based study on pregnant women and their partners
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AbstractCouple relationships are central to many people’s lives, and have been linked to greater life satisfaction and psychological well-being. A poor relationship quality may compromise both physical and mental health (Kiecolt-Glaser & Newton, 2001). Current intimate relationships are generally less stable than they were in the past (Fine & Harvey, 2006). The overall aim of this study was to investigate the importance/significance of perceived relationship quality for mental health and relationship stability in men and women. We explored the influence of relationship dissatisfaction, in addition to a large number of other risk factors, on emotional distress in pregnant women and their partners during the childbearing phase. Furthermore, we explored the influence of relationship satisfaction on the risk for relationship dissolution. We also investigated the buffering effect of relationship satisfaction. For this purpose, we used data from a nation-wide birth cohort study of 51,558 women, and between 20,000 and 63,000 couples recruited in early pregnancy and followed up at several time points. One of the main findings from this study was that dissatisfaction with the partner relationship was a particularly important risk factor for emotional distress in early pregnancy, for both women and men. The effect of self-reported relationship satisfaction was of similar size for both genders. Partner-reported relationship satisfaction had a weaker, but significant effect. Other important risk factors included working conditions and somatic diseases. Our findings implied that a good partner relationship can act as a buffer against strain for both genders. We found that, among risk factors for relationship dissolution, the effect of female relationship dissatisfaction was noteworthy, in addition to other well-known factors. The couples in the current study were expecting a baby, and after birth, they were responsible for small children. The mental health of parents is important for the physical and psychological health of their children and the welfare of the family. Relationship dissolution may also have adverse effects on both the adults and children. Hence, identifying risk factors for emotional distress and relationship dissolution is of great importance. Although our results strictly generalise to parents in a certain phase of life, we believe that most of the results apply for spouses in general. In summary, our findings demonstrate the importance of good partner relationship quality, for both men and women.
LIST OF PAPERS. Paper II and III are removed due to copyright restrictions.
Paper I: Røsand, G-M.B., Slinning, K., Eberhard-Gran, M., Røysamb, E., Tambs, K., Partner relationship satisfaction and maternal emotional distress in early pregnancy (accepted with revision). Published in BMC Public Health 2011, 11:161 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-161
Paper II: Røsand, G-M.B., Slinning, K., Eberhard-Gran, M., Røysamb, E., Tambs, K., The buffering effect of relationship satisfaction on emotional distress in couples (submitted)
Paper III: Røsand, G-M.B., Slinning, K., Røysamb, E., Tambs, K., Risk factors for future relationship dissolution: A population-based study of 18,523 couples (submitted).