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Early Attachment and Marital Satisfaction (introduction)

According to research, marriage has a significant number of benefits for
adults including psychological well-being, physical health, and economic
stability. These benefits are related, however, to the quality and the stability of
the marriage, not simply being married. The current study examines how early
attachment experiences impact the three primary components of marital
satisfaction identified in research, i.e., effective communication, sexual
satisfaction, and love/partner attachment.
Marriage is a complex union which has changed over time and across
cultures. In ancient times, women were considered to be “owned” by men, and
a marriage could not be dissolved except by the death of one’s spouse (Waite,
2005). In ancient Athens, the majority of girls married between 14 to 18 years
of age (very soon after their menarche) to husbands who were often a decade
or more older (Abbott, 2010). In many parts of the world, even babies have
been married off by their parents: adults in traditional India and China, for
example, practiced t’ung yang-hsi (from 926 A.D. until the 20th century) where
in-laws raised their daughters-in-law from infancy to become a wife for their
son (Abbott, 2010). The belief was that this would create more submissive,
obedient, and hard-working brides who would be completely familiar with their
in-laws’ household rules and routines (Abbott, 2010). In the 1600s, European
parents often married off their daughters at or before the age of puberty
(Abbott, 2010); they considered marriage to be an economic arrangement
between families through which the bride could improve her family’s status,
economic stability, and fortune (Peterson, 1997). From the 1690s to the
1870s, “wife sale” (i.e., a type of divorce where a husband could present his
wife with a rope around her neck in public and then sell her to another man)
was common in the rural areas and small towns of England (Peterson, 1997).
The notion of men’s “superior” status over women in marriage was not
restricted to the small towns of England. According to the English common law
and in all American colonies and states until the middle of the 19th century,
married women did not have any legal rights. Women could not own property,
sign a contract, or have control over any of their assets (Peterson, 1997). In
1848, New York was the first state that passed a law allowing married women
to own property (Peterson, 1997).
The current meaning of marriage in the U.S. and other countries is
substantially different from its historical meaning as a social and economic
advancement of oneself and/or family in society (including the domination of a
husband over his wife). Marriage in most advanced countries is now a social
and legal contract between two equal people who commit to romantically
loving and caring for one another while sharing the difficulties and benefits of
marital life (Girgis, George, & Anderson, 2010). For most people, marriage
also has religious meanings (Waite & Lehrer, 2003), which is why marriages
are usually performed with a ceremony at religious locations (Waite & Lehrer,
Today, fewer people are getting married in the U.S. and elsewhere, and
they are waiting a longer time to do so (Waite, 2005). In 2005, for example,
123 million adults over the age of 18 were married in the U.S. (56% of the
adult population). Surprisingly, the percentage of the population over 55 years
of age who have been married at some point in their lives is far higher (96%)
than the entire population over 18 years (75%) who have ever married (U.S.
Bureau of the Census, 2006). This suggests that there are more older married
couples than younger ones. Premarital cohabitation may have contributed to
the current delay in first marriage for both men and women: the percentage of
women cohabiting (i.e., living with a man in a sexual relationship) rose from
3% in 1982 to 11% in 2006-2010, with a higher percentage in some groups
including Hispanic and less educated individuals (Copen, Daniels, Vespa, &
Mosher, 2012). In other words, the percentage of women currently in a first
marriage has decreased over the past several decades from 44% in 1982 to
36% in 2006–2010.

Author: Seyed Hadi Yassin

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