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As shown in Model 5, this partner effect did not differ significantly by gender. We saw in Model 2 that work status alone was not predictive of marital expectations; Model 6 tested the degree to which the characteristics of that status might be associated with marital expectations. Also shown in Models 6 and 7 are the associations between job satisfaction and marital expectations. Such models provide no support for the notions of positive spillover Hypothesis 3 , because neither actor nor partner job satisfaction was significantly associated with marital expectations.

Given the hypothesized association between job satisfaction and relationship satisfaction, and hence the possibility that relationship satisfaction might be mediating the job satisfaction — marital expectations link, we also ran these models without the relationship satisfaction control results not shown. In the models excluding relationship satisfaction, the directionality and magnitude of the job satisfaction effects were consistent with those presented in Model 6.

Furthermore, contrary to Hypothesis 4B, Model 7 revealed that these null associations between job satisfaction and marital expectations did not differ by gender. Work — family research to date has been primarily concerned with already-established, formally recognized families. Little research has examined how work-related factors may influence the experiences and expectations of unmarried couples, especially from a dyadic perspective. As Wickrama, Florensia, and Bryant pointed out, even less research has examined African American families in particular.

The research conducted so far, then, lacks an understanding of marriage as both a developmental and dyadic process. Consistent with other work in this life stage, the findings presented here offer support for viewing developmental domains e. The former effect seems to counter the finding by Guzzo , Gassanov et al. Such differential findings, however, may be attributable to the lack of partner effects examined in these studies and to their focus on transitions rather than expectations. Because the expectation is that young people should be enrolled in school and working toward a secure future, this may be especially true during the developmental period studied here.

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This was the case for both men and women in the sample, given that neither the partner school or partner unemployment effects differed by gender. The hypotheses drawn from the work — family literature received little support in the current study. As previously noted, actor work hours were positively predictive of marital expectations, thus supporting the adult-transitions perspective drawn from the life course literature rather than the competing-roles perspective drawn from the work — family literature.

Furthermore, job satisfaction proved to not be associated with marital expectations, although both actor and partner effects were negative in direction and not insubstantial in size. For job satisfaction, then, such results provide no support for the positive spillover hypothesis and only trend-based support for the notion of competing roles in early adulthood.

Given the direction and size of the job satisfaction coefficients, a sample with a greater percentage of working young people might yield stronger support for the notion that young people who are satisfied in their jobs may recognize the potential competition for time posed by marriage and hence may be choosing at least temporarily not to take seriously their romantic relationships or the prospect of marriage.

Although both relationship satisfaction and general view of marriage proved to be consistent predictors of marriage expectations across all models, it is worth noting that the size of the coefficients grew steadily as school- and work-related variables were entered into the regression equations. Such a pattern suggests that as external i.

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In other words, as external factors become more conducive to marriage, couples may be freer to make union formation decisions that are based on their own values and the quality of their relationships. Future studies of work and family must consider this possibility more extensively and, as Dixon argued, must take seriously the importance of both internal e.

The findings of the present study must be considered in light of several limitations. First and foremost, although the project from which the current data were drawn is longitudinal, the couple-level data used in the current analyses were available at only the latest wave of data collection. Thus, the present study was cross-sectional and could not establish causality between school- and work-related factors and marital expectations.

Future research could benefit from longitudinal couple data to parse out the directionality of effects and could also explore whether the marital expectations examined here predict marital transitions. Both are important in understanding marriage as a developmental and dyadic process. A second limitation of the current study concerns the generalizability of its findings. Nonetheless, this lack of generalizability is somewhat offset by the present focus on an often-ignored population of young people in a theoretically significant developmental period of the life course.

Besides capturing the heterogeneity among African American young adults and their intimate relationships, the current sample shifts the focus in the work — family literature away from White, already-established families to young African American couples. Given the documented racial inequalities not only in the frequency, quality, and stability of romantic relationships but also in educational attainment, un employment patterns, and work characteristics, a shift in focus is not only warranted but also critical for work — family scholars.

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In addition, the current sample allows for recognition of the heterogeneity among African American individuals and couples, because those represented here ranged considerably in their attitudes toward marriage, relationship satisfaction, and marital expectations. As Chambers and Kravitz argued, such heterogeneity is often lacking in research on African Americans.


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Last, some of the measures we used were relatively simplistic, and others were lacking because of data limitations. For example, the data available to measure the concept of spillover were limited to a one-item indicator of job satisfaction. Although the job satisfaction — family satisfaction link is one of the most basic indicators of positive spillover, perhaps other, or more complex, indicators, like job security, job strain, or work — family conflict, might have yielded different results. It is possible that such family background characteristics predict both marital expectations and school and work-related experiences, thus making the association between them spurious.

Nonetheless, it is important to include additional job characteristics as well as family background indicators in future work. Despite the cross-sectional nature, limited generalizability, and restrictive measures, this study was the first to examine the intersections of schooling, work, and marital expectations with a heterogeneous sample of African American couples in young adulthood. This examination revealed that marital expectations are differentially predicted by actor and partner characteristics.

Partner effects, then, support the economic prospects perspective, but actor effects seem to support the adult-transitions perspective. Thus, the economic foundations of marital behavior Sweeney, appear to be laid long before such behavior can be measured. To date, most researchers have failed to assess marital expectations from a dyadic perspective or have tended to restrict their samples to either cohabiting couples or couples expecting a child.

As the significant actor and partner effects in the present study reveal, a relational approach is crucial to understanding the partner-specific marital expectations of young people today and hence to understanding the development and progression of romantic relationships. Furthermore, the present findings suggest that researchers should endeavor to gather more heterogeneous samples of couples to better understand the plurality of romantic relationships that exists within young adulthood.

The current findings are clear in suggesting interdependence of multiple developmental domains in this life stage and in demonstrating the interdependence of romantic partners across such domains. Future researchers would be wise to take this interdependence seriously in order to better understand marriage and relationship processes across the life course, as well as the inequalities that may arise throughout such processes. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.

Mental Health and Dating in the Black Community

Author manuscript; available in PMC Aug 1. Barr and Ronald L. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract Using Family and Community Health Study data consisting of unmarried, primarily African American couples, the current study sought to understand the dyadic interplay among school, work, and partner-specific marriage expectations in early adulthood.

To the extent that such factors do indeed signal future economic potential, they were expected to be related to marital expectations in the following ways: Adult Transitions and Marriage Expectations in Young Adulthood A second line of research has shown certain factors to be important in predicting when young people begin to assume an adult identity.

Stated formally, this hypothesis is as follows: Hence, we hypothesized the following with regard to work hours: Marriage Expectations, Job Satisfaction, Spillover, and Time Binds A third line of research located in the work — family literature suggests two other mechanisms through which work-related experiences, in particular job satisfaction and work hours, may influence family-related experiences. More formally, these hypotheses are as follows: Other Relevant Factors In testing the above hypotheses, it was necessary to include statistical covariates that might confound the associations of interest.

Key Independent Variables Respondents were coded as being enrolled in school if they reported that they were currently attending school or would be attending school in the next academic year. Control Variables General relationship satisfaction was assessed with three questions: Results Descriptive Statistics and Intercorrelations Table 1 displays the means and standard deviations, and Table 2 provides the intercorrelations for all variables used in subsequent analyses.

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Open in a separate window. View of marriage W. View of marriage M. Model Predictor 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Intercept 0. All table values are odds ratios.

Marriage Expectations Among African American Couples in Early Adulthood: A Dyadic Analysis

Discussion Work — family research to date has been primarily concerned with already-established, formally recognized families. Limitations, Implications, and Future Directions The findings of the present study must be considered in light of several limitations. Continuity and change in marital quality between and Journal of Marriage and Family.


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The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. Oxford University Press; Becker PE, Moen P. Journal of Marriage and the Family. Marital quality in Black and White marriages. Journal of Family Issues. Race differences in attitudinal and motivational factors in the decision to marry.

Romantic unions in an era of uncertainty: A post-Moynihan perspective on African American women and marriage. The social construction of marital commitment. Campbell L, Kashy DA. Continuity and change in the American family. Chambers AL, Kravitz A. Understanding the disproportionaly low marriage rate among African Americans: An amalgam of sociological and psychological constraints. Demographic trends in the United States: A review of research in the s. Competence in early adult romantic relationships: A developmental perspective on family influences.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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Comparing institutional effects across Western societies. The role of romantic relationships. Marital quality and conflict across the transition to parenthood in African American and White couples. Marriage among African Americans: CNN There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but when it comes to dating, birds of a feather flock together. It was NOT our decision to pull the billboard.

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