Trajectories of Marital Conflict Across the Life Course: Predictors and Interactions With Marital Happiness Trajectories

J Fam Issues. 2012 Mar 1;33(3):341-368. doi: 10.1177/0192513X11409684.


Using typologies outlined by Gottman and Fitzpatrick as well as institutional and companionate models of marriage, the authors conducted a latent class analysis of marital conflict trajectories using 20 years of data from the Marital Instability Over the Life Course study. Respondents were in one of three groups: high, medium (around the mean), or low conflict. Several factors predicted conflict trajectory group membership; respondents who believed in lifelong marriage and shared decisions equally with their spouse were more likely to report low and less likely to report high conflict. The conflict trajectories were intersected with marital happiness trajectories to examine predictors of high and low quality marriages. A stronger belief in lifelong marriage, shared decision making, and husbands sharing a greater proportion of housework were associated with an increased likelihood of membership in a high happiness, low conflict marriage, and a decreased likelihood of a low marital happiness group.