Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Sociology, Under the Supervision of Professor Kellie J. Hagewen. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2010
Copyright 2010 Kayla M. Sanders


Many studies have documented the decline in marital satisfaction following the birth of a child. This decline has been attributed to individual factors such as stress, role strain and tension, and an increased division of labor. The current study focuses on couple-level characteristics such as the duration of their relationship, religious frequency, and economic stability indicators. This study utilized the first two waves (1980 and 1983) of the Marital Instability over the Life Course study. Wave I (1980) was analyzed using OLS regression to predict scores of marital satisfaction at baseline. Several interactions were also run using data from Wave I to assess several factors that may moderate the transition to parenthood, such as age, race, and gender of the parents.. Multinomial logistic regression was used to analyze Wave II (1983) to predict change in marital satisfaction between waves using a three-category outcome variable. Findings from the OLS regression analysis indicate that marital satisfaction is lower for those couples who have at least one child. Significant interactions from Wave I indicate that becoming a parent affects couples differently based on age, race, and income Results from the Multinomial Logistic regression analysis suggest that women are more likely to maintain the same level of marital satisfaction between waves than are men. Limitations and implications of the findings and future research directions are discussed. Adviser: Kellie J. Hagewen