Özyeğin University, Department of Psychology
Özyeğin University, Department of Psychology
This project was funded by TÜBİTAK 1001 Program (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, Project #113K538). The approach followed in this study is promoted by the project PLOTINA-Promoting gender balance and inclusion in research, innovation and training (www.plotina.eu) to include the variable sex/gender in the founding objectives of the research.
Aims: The purpose of this project was to examine the changes in the dyadic adjustment of newlyweds over time.
Methodologies: Data were collected four times from newlywed couples over three years. The first-time point included 252 couples. Data consisted of online questionnaires on dyadic adjustment, emotion regulation, depression, anxiety, stress, and conflict resolution.
Gendered Results: There were some significant sex differences found in this study. Women reported experiencing higher levels of anxiety, stress, and difficulties in emotion regulation when compared to men. In terms of their conflict communication women reported using negative conflict resolution style and retreat at higher levels than men whereas men reported using subordination at higher levels than women.
The purpose of this study was to examine the changes in the dyadic adjustment of newlyweds over time and the associated individual and relational factors in a sample from Turkey. Marriage is a universal phenomenon in Turkey where 84% of women and 72% of men are married by the age 30 (TUIK, 2010). The marriage rate in Turkey is 7.5 per 1000 population while the divorce rates have been increasing over the last decade rising up to 1.58 per 1000 population recently (TUIK, 2017). Moreover, the majority of the divorces (39.1%) takes place in the first five years of marriages (TUIK, 2017). Thus, the first years of marriage poses as a risk factor for the dyadic functioning of the newlywed couples in this population. According to a study conducted by the Turkish ministry of family and social policies (2014) with 410 participants in 29 cities divorcees reported the top five reasons for divorce as problems with close relatives, emotional bond, affairs, economic problems, and violence.
Because the first years of marriage are considered to be a risky time period for newlyweds, the current study focused on this sample and the changes that take place in their adjustment. The data were collected from 252 newlywed couples and 31 individuals. The sample demographics are presented in Table 1. The data were collected at four different time points over a three-year time period. There were 535 individuals in the first-time point, 344 at the second, 408 at the third, and 372 at the fourth time point; indicating an attrition rate of 20%.
The measures used in the study included Dyadic Adjustment Scale (Bradbury, Fincham, & Beach, 2000), Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (Lovibon & Lovibond, 1995), Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (Gratz & Roemer, 2004), and Conflict Resolution Styles Scale (Özen, 2006).
Results for dyadic adjustment indicated that the main effect of measurement time was statistically significant (Wilks’ l= .85, F(3, 107) = 6.05, p =.001, h=.14) whereas the main effect of sex or the interaction effect of sex and time were not. The Bonferronni pairwise analysis for the significant main effect of time has shown that participants reported higher levels of dyadic adjustment at Time 1 compared to Time 4.
When depression, anxiety, and stress variables were examined; the results for the depression variable indicated that the main effect of time was statistically significant (Wilks’ l= .93, F(3, 108) =2.89, p=.04, h=.07), but not the main effect of sex or the sex and time interaction effect. In addition, the Bonferonni pairwise comparison did not identify a specific time point as statistically different than others. The results for the anxiety variable showed that the main effect of sex was statistically significant (Wilks’ l= .90, F(1, 110) =11.61, p=.00, h=.10) whereas the main effect of measurement time and the interaction effect of sex and time were not. Women’s mean anxiety level was found to be higher than men in this analysis. The results for the stress variable showed significant main effects for sex (Wilks’ l= .89, F(1, 110) =13.75, p=.00, h=.11) but not for the main effects of time or the interaction effect of sex and time. Women’s mean stress level was higher than men’s.
For difficulties in emotion regulation there was a statistically significant main effect for sex (Wilks’ l= .96, F(1, 109) =4.12, p=.04, h=.04) but not for the main effect of time or the interaction effect of sex and time. The mean difficulties in emotion regulation was found to be higher for women than men.
When different conflict resolution styles were examined, for positive conflict resolution style there was no statistically significant findings. For the negative conflict resolution style the sex main effect was statistically significant (Wilks’ l= .95, F(1, 108) =5.29, p=.02, h=.05) but not the measurement time’s main effect or the interaction of sex and time. Women were found to use the negative conflict resolution style at greater levels than men. When subordination conflict resolution style was examined, there were statistically significant main effects for both time (Wilks’ l= .91, F(3, 106) =3.37, p=.02, h=.09) and sex (Wilks’ l= .78, F(1, 108) =29.89, p=.00, h=.22) but not for their interaction. Pairwise comparisons showed that the participants reported using subordination as a conflict resolution style at greater levels at Time 1 compared to Time 4. In addition, men reported using subordination at greater levels than women. Finally, when the use of retreat as a conflict resolution style was examined there was a significant main effect for sex (Wilks’ l= .94, F(1, 108) =7.49, p=.01, h=.07) but not for the main effect for time or the interaction of time and sex. Women reported using retreat as a conflict resolution style more often than men did according to pairwise comparisons.
Table 1: Sample Descriptives
Bradbury, T. N., Fincham, F. D., & Beach, S. R. H. (2000). Research on the nature and determinants of marital satisfaction: A decade in review. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62, 964-980.
Gratz, K. L., & Roemer, L. (2004). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: Development, factor structure, and initial validation of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 26, 41-54.
Lovibond, S. H., & Lovibond, P. F. (1995). Manual for the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (2nd ed.). Sydney: Psychology Foundation.
Özen, A. (2006). Evlilik uyumunun yordayıcıları olarak karı ve kocaların değer uyumları ve eşlerin çatışma çözüm stilleri. Yayınlanmamış Yüksek Lisans Tezi, Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Ankara.
TUIK (2010). Evlenme ve boşanma istatistikleri. Retrived at www.tuik.gov.tr
TUIK (2017). Evlenme ve boşanma istatistikleri. Retrived at www.tuik.gov.tr