Sociology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Family Issues 39:5 (2018), pp 1304–1325.

DOI: 10.1177/0192513X17699027


Copyright © 2017 Arthur L. Greil, Kathleen Slauson-Blevins, Julia McQuillan, Michele H. Lowry, Andrea R. Burch, and Karina M. Shreffler. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


We use path analysis to analyze heterosexual couples from the U.S. National Survey of Fertility Barriers, a probability-based sample of women and their male partners. We restrict the sample to couples in which the women are infertile. We estimate a path model of each partner’s relationship satisfaction on indicators of self-identifying as having a fertility problem or not at the individual and couple levels. We find a gender effect: for women, but not men, relationship satisfaction was significantly higher when neither partner self-identified as having a fertility problem. Women’s relationship satisfaction exerted a strong influence on their partners’ relationship satisfaction, but no similar association between men’s relationship satisfaction and their partner’s satisfaction was found. In infertile couples, higher levels of perceived social support are associated with higher levels of relationship satisfaction for women but not for men.