Shared attitudes and couples’ break-up plans

Maria Brandén, Stockholm University
Eva Bernhardt, Stockholm University

This study examines whether couples where partners share notions on what is important in life show greater union stability compared to couples where partners disagree. We examine what effect sharing notions about the importance of work, family and leisure activities has on couples’ break-up plans. The Young Adult Panel Study 2009 includes 1058 Swedish heterosexual couples with self reported attitudes for both partners. Using separate stepwise logistic regressions for each kind of attitude we examine how sharing notions on the importance of work, family and leisure activities is associated with couples’ break-up plans during the preceding year. Sharing attitudes was expected to create a common basis for discussion and perhaps a mutual confirmation of worldviews, hence increasing union stability. However, it might be more important to share attitudes on the importance of family life than attitudes regarding other areas of life, i.e. to share attitudes that are ’instrumental’ for a good relationship. Finally, we expected that being similar to a partner is more important for areas that any of the partners consider very important in life. Preliminary results indicate that couples with leisure oriented men more often have suffered from break-up plans during the last year. The woman’s leisure orientation however has no impact. Neither does the work orientation of the man or the woman. Couples have less often had break-up plans if either the man or the woman is family oriented. The attitudes as such hence seem to matter; however sharing these attitudes has no significant association with break-up plans, for neither of the attitudes studied. Hence it seems as if it is the attitudes rather than sharing these attitudes that are associated with relationship quality.

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Presented in Session 72: Union dissolution