Daily Dyadic Coping Predicts Changes in Marital Adjustment Among Couples in Stepfamilies Across 2 Years
1University of British Columbia, Canada
Background: Stepfamilies tend to experience both greater amounts and varieties of stress and are at a higher risk of marital distress and divorce than are nuclear families. This study examined stepparents’ day-to-day coping with family stress as a predictor of changes in marital satisfaction over a two-year period. Methods: Both members of 67 stepfamily couples were interviewed about their marital adjustment at baseline and again two years later. They also each completed twice-daily reports for a period of one week assessing family stressors and strategies used to cope. Multilevel modeling was used to examine the effects of coping via confrontation, compromise and withdrawal on marital adjustment over time. Findings: Wives who reported higher levels of withdrawal in coping with daily family stress had poorer marital adjustment over time. The impact of wives’ confrontation on marital adjustment was moderated by her husband’s tendency to use compromise and confrontation. Discussion: Findings support a dyadic coping model in which the responses of both husbands and wives must be considered in tandem to understand the impact of family stressors over time.