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J Health Soc Behav. 2003 Dec;44(4):470-87.

Has the future of marriage arrived? A contemporary examination of gender, marriage, and psychological well-being.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, 300 Bricker Hall, 190 N. Oval Mall, Ohio State University, Columbus OH 43210, USA.


A long tradition of research and theory on gender, marriage, and mental health suggests that marital status is more important to men's psychological well-being than women's while marital quality is more important to women's well-being than men's. These beliefs rest largely on a theoretical and empirical foundation established in the 1970s, but, despite changes in gender and family roles, they have rarely been questioned. The present analysis of three waves of a nationally representative survey indicates that, with few exceptions, the effects of marital status, marital transitions, and marital quality on psychological well-being are similar for men and women. Further, for men and women, occupying an unsatisfying marriage undermines psychological well-being to a similar extent--and, in some cases, to a greater extent--than exiting marriage or being continually unmarried.

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