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The Social Science Journal 47 (2010) 747761

The emotional terrain of parenting and marriage: Emotion work and marital satisfaction
Krista Lynn Minnotte a, , Daphne Pedersen a , Susan E. Mannon b
a

Department of Sociology, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, USA b Department of Sociology, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA

Received 6 October 2009; received in revised form 4 June 2010; accepted 21 July 2010

Abstract This study examines how the division of labor surrounding emotion work relates to the marital satisfaction of husbands and wives. The analysis is performed on data from a random sample of couples with at least one child from a northern city in a western state (N = 96 couples). Results suggest that for both husbands and wives the emotion work received from and performed for their spouse is signicantly and positively related to marital satisfaction. Results also suggest that the marital satisfaction of husbands is enhanced when they are involved in performing emotion work for children, but if their levels of emotion work for children begin to approach or exceed that of their wives then their marital satisfaction tends to decline. Implications of the study are discussed. 2010 Western Social Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Emotion work; Marital satisfaction; Marriage; Emotional support; Gender; Children

The institution of marriage has undergone signicant changes during the 20th century in USA. One chief transformation has been the growing focus on emotional expression in marriages and families (Bianchi, Robinson, & Milkie, 2006; Cherlin, 2004; Wilcox & Nock, 2006, 2007). Indeed, marriage and family are increasingly viewed as institutions in which both partners should experience emotional fulllment and attend to the emotional needs of each other and children (Cherlin, 2004; Wilcox & Nock, 2006, 2007). Feminist scholars, however, have
This article was prepared as a contribution to multi-state project W-167 with funding support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station (Project No. 869). Corresponding author at: University of North Dakota, Department of Sociology, Gillette Hall Room 202, 225 Centennial Drive Stop 7136, Grand Forks, ND 58202-7136, USA. Tel.: +1 701 777 4419; fax: +1 701 777 4767. E-mail addresses: krista.minnotte@und.edu, klminnotte@yahoo.com (K.L. Minnotte).
0362-3319/$ see front matter 2010 Western Social Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.soscij.2010.07.011

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called attention to the amount of work involved in emotional caretaking, and have argued for the expansion of the concept of domestic labor to include this form of work (Coverman, 1989; Daniels, 1987). Accordingly, scholarship has begun to examine the antecedents of emotion work along with the marital ramications of inequality in the division of emotion work (author citations, Duncombe & Marsden, 1995; Erickson, 1993). Several studies have demonstrated that mens emotion work in marriage tends to enhance the marital quality of women and that when women perceive inequalities in this form of labor it negatively impacts their marital quality and relationship satisfaction (Erickson, 1993; Duncombe & Marsden, 1993, 1995; Wilcox & Nock, 2006). Far fewer studies have considered how the division of emotion work within the home impacts mens marital satisfaction (author citation). Moreover, little scholarly attention has been devoted to examining how the division of labor surrounding the emotion work for children shapes marital satisfaction. Given these lacunae in the empirical literature, we examine how the division of emotion work, including emotion work performed by spouses for each other and for children, within families is related to the marital satisfaction of wives and husbands. In particular, this study focuses on the performance of emotion work, which refers to providing support and encouragement to others thereby enhancing the self-esteem and well-being of the recipients of this labor (author citation; Erickson, 1993; Hochschild, 1983; Hochschild & Machung, 1989; James, 1989). By examining the division of emotion work in support of both husbands, wives, and children, we hope to shed further light on the marital satisfaction of spouses operating in a socio-historical context that highlights the importance of emotional sustenance in family life (Bianchi et al., 2006; Cherlin, 2004; Wilcox & Nock, 2006, 2007). We argue that in this context, with its intense focus on emotional fulllment, we cannot fully understand marital satisfaction without considering the division of labor related to emotion work. We examine these relationships with data from randomly selected couples from a northern city in a western state (N = 96 couples).

1. Emotion work and marital satisfaction 1.1. Receiving and performing emotion work and marital satisfaction Emotion work was conceptualized in Hochschilds (1983) The Managed Heart. Hochschild wrote, I use the term emotional labor to mean the management of feelings to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display; emotional labor is sold for a wage and therefore has exchange value (1983, p. 7). These same actions performed in private contexts, such as the home, were referred to as emotion work. The initial denition proposed by Hochschild focused on the management of ones own emotions, whereas future research tended to emphasize emotion work as involving the provision of support and encouragement to others (author citation; Erickson, 1993; Hochschild, 1983; Hochschild & Machung, 1989; James, 1989). Despite the fact that this labor is essential to the maintenance of family relationships (Daniels, 1987; DeVault, 1999; Duncombe & Marsden, 1993; James, 1989), emotion work has been largely invisible and ignored in many studies of family life. This has led scholars to highlight the salience of emotion work, and to call for its inclusion in studies pertaining to family relationships (Coverman, 1989; Erickson, 1993, 2005).

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The increased focus on emotional sustenance within marriage means that it is important to understand how emotion work impacts marital satisfaction (Bianchi et al., 2006; Cherlin, 2004; Wilcox & Nock, 2006, 2007). Accordingly studies have examined the relationships between emotion work and various outcomes associated with marriages, including marital satisfaction. Many of such studies have restricted their analyses to women, with results indicating that mens involvement in emotion work tends to increase womens marital quality and marital satisfaction (Duncombe & Marsden, 1995; Erickson, 1993; Wilcox & Nock, 2006). Studies have also shown that womens perceptions of inequalities in emotion work are related to reductions in womens relationship satisfaction (Duncombe & Marsden, 1993, 1995). Other studies that include both men and women have tended to focus on emotion work as a form of domestic labor and to see how it, combined with other forms of domestic labor, impact marital satisfaction (author citation). One such study found that the emotion work performed by the respondents partner was positively related to the marital satisfaction of both men and women (author citation). Hence, we expect that being on the receiving end of emotion work will be positively associated with the marital satisfaction of husbands and wives. In looking at these relationships, we consider how wives perceptions of their husbands emotion work performance relate to wives marital satisfaction, and how husbands perceptions of their wives emotion work performance relate to husbands marital satisfaction. In other words, we examine how the level of emotion work each spouse reports receiving is associated with each spouses marital satisfaction. We propose the following hypotheses: H1a : The emotion work wives receive from their husbands will be positively related to wives marital satisfaction. H1b : The emotion work husbands receive from their wives will be positively related to husbands marital satisfaction. We also consider how the performance of emotion work for a spouse is related to marital satisfaction. We argue that performing emotion work for a spouse strengthens bonds with that spouse, thereby enhancing marital satisfaction. This leads us to expect that emotion work performed for spouse and marital satisfaction will be positively related. We examine how wives reports of their emotion work in support of their husbands are related to wives marital satisfaction, and how husbands perceptions of their emotion work in support of their wives are related to husbands marital satisfaction. We put forth the following hypotheses: H2a : The emotion work performed by wives for their husbands will be positively related to wives marital satisfaction. H2b : The emotion work performed by husbands for their wives will be positively related to husbands marital satisfaction. 1.2. Relative emotion work for children and marital satisfaction Researchers have long been interested in how parenting affects marital dynamics, including the reported marital satisfaction of parents. One primary area of focus has been the transition to parenthood and its relationship to changes in marital quality. Many studies have

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found that the presence of children is associated with declines in marital quality and satisfaction (Bradbury, Fincham, & Beach, 2000; Crohan, 1996; Glenn & McLanahan, 1982; Somers, 1993; Twenge, Campbell, & Foster, 2003; Umberson & Needham, 2005). Some researchers, however, have emphasized the importance of addressing variations in the impact of children on marital satisfaction, calling attention to the fact that many couples simply do not experience the decreased marital satisfaction associated with the transition to parenthood (Belsky & Rovine, 1990; Bradbury et al., 2000; Demo & Cox, 2000; Helms-Erickson, 2001; MacDermid, Huston, & McHale, 1990). Examinations of factors that predict variations in the marital satisfaction of couples with children can be helpful in teasing out the complex relationships between marital satisfaction and the presence of children that have been documented in previous research. We argue that the labor surrounding the emotional caretaking of children, viewed as essential to good parenting in contemporary contexts, likely matters in shaping marital satisfaction. Research, however, has tended to ignore that emotional caretaking is work and that inequalities related to this form of labor can create tensions within marriages (Daniels, 1987; Hochschild & Machung, 1989; James, 1989). Here we consider how the perceptions of each spouses contribution to emotion work for children are related to marital satisfaction. We do so by examining the relative emotion work of each spouse. We dene relative emotion work as perceptions held by each spouse regarding how much emotion work for children they are performing relative to their spouse. In other words, we consider whether husbands and wives perceive they are performing more of this labor compared to their spouses, less of this labor than their spouses, or the same amount of this labor as their spouses. By examining the relative emotion work performance of each spouse, we hope to sharpen our understanding of how the labor surrounding emotion work for children impacts marital satisfaction. Previous research has examined how emotion work performed in support of a spouse affects marital quality and marital satisfaction (e.g. author citation; Duncombe & Marsden, 1995; Erickson, 1993), but we know of no studies that directly address how the division of labor surrounding emotion work for children relates to marital satisfaction (or other closely associated outcomes). Studies have not explicitly examined emotion work for children, however, a few studies have highlighted how shared parenting requires both parents building emotional relationships with children. Hence, the adoption of a shared parenting strategy on the part of parents is associated with men increasingly contributing to the emotional sustenance of their children, which DeFrain and Olson (1999) argue has positive effects on men. Indeed, one study with a focus on shared parenting, found that relational dimensions of parenting were related to increased marital satisfaction (Ehrenberg, Gearing-Small, Hunter, & Brent, 2001). Further, previous studies of the division of child care suggest that perceived inequalities in child care can negatively impact marital satisfaction (author citation; Yogev & Brett, 1985). This leads us to expect that when husbands and wives perceive that they are performing more emotion work for children than their spouses that this will be associated with lower levels of marital satisfaction. This means that we expect higher scores on relative emotion work (the husband or wife perceiving they are performing more of this work relative to their wife or husband) to be associated with lower scores on marital satisfaction. In our analyses, we consider how the husbands perceptions of relative emotion work for children are related to husbands marital satisfaction, and how wives perceptions of relative emotion work for children are related to

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wives marital satisfaction. We propose the following hypotheses: H3a : The more wives perceive they are performing greater amounts of emotion work for children than their husbands the lower their marital satisfaction. H3b : The more husbands perceive they are performing greater amounts of emotion work for children than their wives the lower their marital satisfaction. Another important aspect of the division of labor is the spouses perceptions of the performance of work; hence we consider both spouses perceptions of relative emotion work for children. By doing so, we are able to consider how the husbands perceptions of relative emotion work for children relate to the wives reports of marital satisfaction and vice versa. For instance, we argue that when a wife perceives that she is performing more emotion work for children relative to her spouse that this can positively impact the marital satisfaction of her husband (and vice versa). This is based on the idea that people prefer divisions of household labor, including emotion work, that favor themselves. In other words, people generally prefer for their spouse to be performing more of any given type of household labor than they themselves perform. This argument is in line with the key assumptions of major theories of household labor allocation, such as the relative resources perspective (Coltrane, 2000). Hence, we expect that husbands and wives will report higher marital satisfaction when their spouses report performing more of the emotion work for children relative to themselves, leading us to the following hypotheses: H4a : The more husbands report performing greater amounts of emotion work for children than their wives, the higher the wives marital satisfaction. H4b : The more wives report performing greater amounts of emotion work for children than their husbands, the higher the husbands marital satisfaction. 1.3. Demographic control variables In addition to the key variables pertaining to division of labor surrounding emotion work, we also incorporate a number of demographic control variables that have been shown to matter in exploring marital satisfaction. The variable number of children is included because past research has indicated that both the presence and number of children are associated with declines in spouse companionship and marital satisfaction (Ross, Mirowsky, & Goldsteen, 1990; Twenge et al., 2003; Walker, 1999). Because the sample examined in this study is restricted to those who have at least one child, it is important to control for both the number of children and the presence of preschool children in the family. Length of marriage is also included in the analysis, as past research has found that part of the reason for the decline in marital satisfaction following the transition to parenthood is an artifact of the length of marriage (Belsky & Rovine, 1990; Crohan, 1996; MacDermid et al., 1990). Total household income is also included in the analysis, because previous studies link economic hardship with decreased well-being of parents and higher incomes may mitigate some of the stress associated with the transition to parenthood (Belsky & Rovine, 1990; Ross et al., 1990).

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Couples with two earners in the paid labor force face a difcult situation of balancing work and family life compared to couples with a single-earner, which may impact such couples marital satisfaction. In fact, some researchers have argued that dual-earner couples are at risk for increased parenting stress and decreased marital satisfaction (Ehrenberg et al., 2001; Wilcox & Nock, 2007). Hence, we consider whether a couple is characterized by having one or two earners in our analyses. Other key demographic variables to take into account when examining marital satisfaction are level of education and age, which are both included in the present analysis. Lastly, we include a measure of gender ideology because peoples attitudes about gender roles shape how they view the division of domestic labor (e.g. Greenstein, 1996).

2. Method The dataset for this study is from a questionnaire administered to a random sample of couples with children under the age of 18 in a northern city of a western state. This citys population was approximately 40,000 at the time of questionnaire distribution. The sample was generated from a list of addresses associated with utility billings provided by the participating city. Because the studys focus is on couples living together with children under age 18 in the home and at least one spouse working in the paid labor force, a drop-off-pick-up technique of data collection was utilized. A member of the research team approached each randomly selected household to determine if they were eligible for participation in the study. Each spouse in eligible couples was given a self-administered questionnaire and instructed to complete it independently from their spouse. The respondents were asked to place the completed questionnaires in separate, sealed envelopes to be picked up at a time arranged with the research assistant. The response rate for households who were successfully contacted was 70%, which yielded a total of 96 couples. The average age of respondents was 31.29 years for wives (SD = 7.57) and 34.5 years for husbands (SD = 8.80). Husbands reported an average of 14.96 years of education (SD = 2.18), and wives reported an average of 14.35 years of education (SD = 1.92). 2.1. Measures 2.1.1. Dependent variable The dependent variable marital satisfaction was measured using a seven-item subscale derived from Spaniers (1976) index of marital adjustment, a widely used measure of marital satisfaction (Graham, Liu, & Jeziorski, 2006; Kurdek, 2005). A reliability generalization metaanalysis of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale found the satisfaction scores across many studies to have acceptable levels of internal consistency (Graham et al., 2006). For this study, each respondent was asked to rate their satisfaction with these seven aspects of their relationship: (a) The way money is handled in your relationship; (b) The things you and your partner do together when you go out visiting or for entertainment; (c) The amount of affection in your relationship; (d) The way you and your partner deal with in-laws; (e) Sexual relations in your relationship; (f) Religious beliefs in your relationship; and (g) The way chores around the house are performed. The response categories were always dissatised, often dissatised, sometimes satised, often satised, and always satised. To measure the respondents

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marital satisfaction the items for each individual were summed to create an index score. In each case, higher scores indicate higher levels of marital satisfaction. The alpha reliability coefcients for the scales were .81 for husbands and .84 for wives 2.1.2. Predictor variables The measure of emotion work for spouse was adapted from the work of previous scholars (author citation; Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983; Erickson, 1993). Respondents were asked: In general, how often do you engage in the following behaviors? (a) Conde my innermost thoughts and feelings; (b) Praise my partner; (c) Suggest good solutions to my partners problems; (d) Take the lead in talking things over; and (e) Sense that my partner is disturbed about something. The response categories were: 1 = never, 2 = seldom, 3 = sometimes, 4 = often, 5 = frequently, and 6 = always. The responses were summed to create an index with higher scores indicating high levels of emotion work performed for spouse. The index had alpha reliability coefcients of .78 for men and .73 for women. The variable emotion work received from spouse was measured by asking respondents to indicate how often their spouse engaged in the behaviors listed above. High scores indicate that the respondent perceives their spouse to be performing high levels of emotion work on their behalf. The index had alpha reliability coefcients .85 for husbands and .87 for wives An index of relative emotion work for children was created by adapting measures of emotion work performed in support of partners to situations involving providing such emotional care to children (author citation; Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983; Erickson, 1993). This measure assesses how much emotion work a husband or wife report performing relative to their spouse. Respondents were asked to indicate who in their relationship does each of the following: (a) Soothes our child(ren) when they experience disappointments (e.g. rejected by other children); (b) Praises our child(ren) for school performance; (c) Praises our child(ren) for doing household chores; and (d) Compliments our child(ren) for achievements (e.g. sports, music, scouting). The response categories included 1 = partner much more, 3 = we do this equally, and 5 = I much more. Scores were summed into an index; with high scores indicating that the husband (or wife) reported performing more emotion work relative to his wife (or her husband). Additionally, moderate scores around 12 indicate that the husband or wife perceives the division of labor surrounding emotion work for children to be roughly equal, and lower scores indicate that the husband or wife perceives their spouse to be performing more of this labor than themselves. Alpha reliability coefcients for this measure were .74 for husbands and .84 for wives. In our analysis of emotion work for children, we also include a quadratic term due to the manner in which emotion work for children was measured. We include the quadratic term in order to assess the possibility that scores in the middle indicating a sharing of emotion work for children are associated with the highest levels of marital satisfaction. Total number of children was measured by asking respondents to indicate how many children under the age of 18 were living in the home. Total household income was measured by asking respondents to indicate their total yearly household income before taxes. Response categories ranged from less than $10,000 to 100,000 and over and increased in $5000 increments. A dummy variable was created for dual-earner couple status with a score of 1 indicating that both members of the couple are employed, and a score of 0 indicating only one partner was employed in the paid labor force. Preschool children was a dummy variable with a score of 1 indicating

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the presence of preschool children and 0 indicating that all children in the household were older than preschool aged. Length of marriage was measured by asking respondents to specify how many years they had been married. Education was measured by asking respondents to indicate the number of years of formal education they had competed. We measured age by asking respondents to indicate their year of birth, which was then used to determine their age in years at the time of the survey. Gender ideology was measured by asking respondents to indicate their extent of agreement or disagreement with the following statements: (a) A womans most important task in life should be taking care of her children; (b) A husband should earn more money than his wife; and (c) Even though a wife works outside the home, the husband should be the main breadwinner and the wife should have the responsibility for home and children. Response categories ranged from 1 = strongly disagree to 6 = strongly agree. Responses were summed to create an index with higher scores indicating more traditional gender ideologies. The alpha reliability coefcients for this measure were .71 for men and .65 for women. 2.2. Analytic strategy We test our hypotheses using a series of Seemingly Unrelated Regressions. Seemingly Unrelated Regression allows us to simultaneously estimate the equations for husbands and wives while using the correlation among errors to improve estimations (Hook, 2004; Timm, 2002). We use this method because it takes into account the nonindependence of the couple data. Missing values were replaced with mean scores so as not to reduce the already modest sample size. We ran a series of models to address how each key predictor variable is related to marital satisfaction. Each model includes the demographic control variables (age, education, household income, dual-earner couple status, length of marriage, number of children, and preschool children) along with one key predictor variable. Model 1 focuses on the relationship husbands and wives performance of emotion work for their spouse and marital satisfaction in order to address Hypotheses 1a and 1b. To test Hypotheses 2a and 2b, Model 2 examines the association between the amount of emotion work husbands and wives report receiving from their spouses and marital satisfaction. Model 3 addresses Hypotheses 3a and 3b by examining how husbands and wives perceptions of their relative emotion work for children are related to marital satisfaction. Lastly, Model 4 examines the relationship between the spouses reports of emotion work for children and the marital satisfaction of the respondent in order to test Hypotheses 4a and 4b.

3. Results Descriptive statistics are reported in Table 1 along with paired t-tests. Husbands, on average, reported signicantly higher levels of marital satisfaction than wives reported. On average, husbands were signicantly older and had more years of education than wives. Couples had been married an average of nearly nine years and had an average of two children under the age of 18 living in the home with roughly 72% of households reporting the presence of preschool children. The average total yearly household income was between $40,000 and $44,999 and roughly 39% of those in the sample were dual-earner couples. On average, wives reported per-

K.L. Minnotte et al. / The Social Science Journal 47 (2010) 747761 Table 1 Descriptive statistics (N = 96 couples). Husbands Variables Dependent variable Marital satisfaction Demographic variables Age Years of education Household income Dual-earner couple Length of marriage Number of children Preschool children Predictor vriables Emotion work performed for spouse Emotion work received from spouse Relative emotion work with children M 33.12* 33.55* 14.96* 8.58 .39 8.67 2.10 .73 26.89 26.05 10.56* SD 5.89 8.80 2.18 5.16 .49 6.80 1.05 .45 4.56 5.51 2.24 Wives M 31.33 31.29 14.35 8.29 .39 8.81 2.15 .72 26.32 24.64 13.87

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SD 6.26 7.57 1.92 5.07 .49 6.92 1.07 .45 4.39 5.99 2.51

Indicates that a paired t-test of the difference between the means of men and women was signicant at the .05 level or higher.

forming signicantly more emotion work with children relative to their partner than husbands did; whereas, on average, wives and husbands reported roughly equal amounts of emotion work for partner. The amounts of emotion work husbands and wives reports receiving from their spouse differed (M = 26.05, SD = 5.51; M = 24.64, SD = 5.99, respectively), but the difference between the means failed to reach statistical signicance (p = .06). Table 2 contains the correlations between each spouses marital satisfaction and the various measures of emotion work.
Table 2 Zero-order correlation matrix of marital satisfaction of each spouse and emotion work (N = 96 couples). Variable 1. Husbands marital satisfaction 2. Wives marital satisfaction 3. Husbands report of emotion work from wives 4. Wives report of emotion work from husbands 5. Husbands report of emotion work performed for wives 6. Wives reports of emotion work performed for husbands 7. Husbands relative emotion work for children 8. Wives relative emotion work for children

1 .67*** .57*** .50*** .42*** .39*** .17 .14

2 .45*** .73*** .32** .60*** .08 .34**

.43*** .54*** .47*** .16 .12 .45*** .72*** .08 .32** .29** .02 .03 .11 .27* .06

p < .05. p < .01. p < .001.

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The results from the Seemingly Unrelated Regression analyses for husbands and wives are presented in Table 3. Hypothesis 1a predicts that the emotion work wives receive from their husbands will be positively related to wives marital satisfaction. The results provide support for this hypothesis, as there is a signicant, positive relationship between the amount of emotion work wives report receiving from their husbands and wives marital satisfaction. Hypothesis 1b predicts that the emotion work husbands receive from their wives will be positively related to husbands marital satisfaction. The signicant, positive relationship between the amount of emotion work husbands report receiving from their wives and husbands marital satisfaction provides support for this hypothesis. Hypothesis 2a proposes that the emotion work performed by wives for their husbands will be positively related to wives marital satisfaction. We nd support for this hypothesis, as there is a signicant, positive relationship between the emotion work wives report performing and wives marital satisfaction. Hypothesis 2b proposes that the emotion work performed by husbands for their wives will be positively related to husbands marital satisfaction. The analysis supports this hypothesis, as the relationship between husbands emotion work performance and husbands marital satisfaction is signicant and positive. Hypothesis 3a predicts that the more wives perceive they are performing greater amounts of emotion work for children than their husbands the lower their marital satisfaction. The results fail to provide support for this hypothesis. Hypothesis 3b predicts that the more husbands perceive they are performing greater amounts of emotion work for children than their wives the lower their marital satisfaction. The ndings provide support for this hypothesis. To interpret this effect it is necessary to examine the quadratic relationship between husbands relative emotion work for children and marital satisfaction. As shown in Fig. 1, husbands marital satisfaction peaks at 8.28 (about one standard deviation below the mean) and then declines for greater relation emotion work for children performance. This suggests that the most satised husbands in the sample are those whose wives perform somewhat more emotion work for children than they do. Hypothesis 4a concerning the relationship between husbands relative emotion work for children and wives marital satisfaction was not supported. The ndings also failed to provide support for Hypothesis 4b concerning wives relative emotion work for children and husbands marital satisfaction.

4. Discussion and conclusion Given the growing focus on marriages as arenas for emotional expression and increasing expectations of both parents involvement in child-rearing we explored how the emotional terrain of marriage and parenting relates to the marital satisfaction reported by husbands and wives (Cherlin, 2004; Wilcox & Nock, 2006, 2007). Specically, we examined the important role of emotion work performed for each spouse, emotion work received by each spouse, and each spouses relative emotion work with children performance in predicting marital satisfaction. Our results suggest that these are pertinent variables to consider in examining marital satisfaction.

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Table 3 Summary of Seemingly Unrelated Regression analyses for variables predicting marital satisfaction (N = 96 couples).
Variables Wives Model 1 B Age Education Household income Marriage length Gender ideology Number of children Preschool children Dual-earner couple Wifes report of emotion work received from husband Wifes report of emotion work for husband Wifes relative emotion work for children Quadratic wifes relative emotion work for children Husbands relative emotion work for children Quadratic husbands relative emotion work for children R2 .35 Husbands Model 1 B Age Education Houshold income Marriage length Gender ideology Number of children Preschool children Dual-earner couple Husbands report of emotion work received from wife Husbands report of emotion work for wife Husbands relative emotion work for children Quadratic husbands relative emotion work for children Wifes relative emotion work for children Quadratic wifes relative emotion work for children R2

Model 2 SE B .09 .22 .12 .10 .13 .51 1.50 1.03 .06 .48*** .09 B .01 .14 .08 .03 .26* .12 .71 1.09 SE B .09 .20 .10 .09 .12 .43 1.30 .87

Model 3 B .001 .12 .01 .05 .29* .35 1.38 1.06 SE B .11 .25 .13 .12 .14 .57 1.69 1.18

Model 4 B .02 .15 .04 .11 .34 .52 1.89 .97 SE B .11 .24 .13 .12 .14 .59 1.75 1.24

.04 .10 .05 .05 .18 .22 1.54 .81 .51***

1.15 .02

1.80 .06 .18 .003 1.13 .06

.54

.17

.03

Model 2 SE B .08 .21 .12 .10 .13 .52 1.61 1.11 .08 .34*** .09 B .13 .03 .01 .06 .02 .21 .82 .98 SE B .08 .21 .11 .09 .13 .47 1.49 1.01

Model 3 B .11 .11 .14 .11 .05 .21 .27 .09 SE B .08 .20 .11 .10 .12 .51 1.56 1.10

Model 4 B .11 .03 .22 .01 .02 .38 .32 .86 SE B .09 .22 .12 .11 .13 .57 1.71 1.23

.07 .10 .11 .07 .12 .26 .21 .64 .45***

3.28** .20***

1.03 .05 2.91 .09 1.80 .06

.17

.33

.22

.11

p < .05. p < .01. p < .001.

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Fig. 1. Graph of the quadratic relationship between husbands relative emotion work for children and husbands marital satisfaction (N = 96).

Indicative of the growing focus on marriage as a medium for emotional sustenance and well-being, we nd that for both husbands and wives, being the recipient of emotion work performed by their spouse is positively and signicantly associated with marital satisfaction. Further, we nd that for both husbands and wives, the performance of emotion work for spouse was signicantly and positively related to marital satisfaction. Generally, these ndings suggest that the more emotional investment, in the form of emotion work, spouses make in a marriage the greater the marital satisfaction each reports. An alternative explanation is that individuals in strong relationships with high levels of satisfaction will perform more emotion work for their partners. This is a compelling explanation, however, it tends to downplay the signicance of emotion work as a powerful source of support that enhances marital satisfaction and strengthens marital bonds. The view that emotion work is a key variable that explains marital satisfaction is further buttressed by other research that has found similar relationships between emotion work and marital quality (author citations; Erickson, 1993; Wilcox & Nock, 2006). Many of these previous studies were innovative and important, but relied on data that only included women, whereas the present study highlights that emotion work within the context of marriage matters for men too. Indeed, our data from couples allow us to see that for both spouses, the emotion work performed in support of their spouse and the emotion work they receive from their spouse are signicantly related to marital satisfaction. Further, the positive relationship between emotion work done in support of spouse and the respondents own marital satisfaction,

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suggests that the performance of emotion work for a spouse may not be as onerous as previous scholars have suggested (Coverman, 1989; Daniels, 1987). Overall, the results suggest that emotion work is benecial for the marital satisfaction of husbands and wives for both the giver and the receiver. Given the increasing expectations that both parents should be involved in parenting, including the emotional caretaking of children, we examined how the relative emotion work for children performance of each spouse was related to marital satisfaction. We had expected that parents would prefer a division of labor in which their spouses were performing more emotion work with children than themselves. The results provided support for this expectation for husbands, as husbands who perceive they are doing more emotion work for children than their wives tend to report lower marital satisfaction. The husbands with the highest levels of marital satisfaction tend to be husbands who report that their wives perform slightly more emotion work for children than they do. This suggests that husbands may feel burdened when they perform more emotion work for children than their wives and that this has the potential to negatively shape marital satisfaction. But, the results also suggest that husbands do not appear to want to be excluded from emotion work for children, as the most satised husbands report some sharing of this labor with their wives. Because previous studies have also suggested that emotional involvement on the part of parents is related to increased well-being of both sons and daughters (Wenk, Hardesty, Morgan, & Blair, 1994), it is crucial that parents provide emotion work to children. The present study suggests that how much each parent is involved in emotion work for children has the potential to be a contentious issue for couples. Recent qualitative research by Doucet (2006), suggesting that men and women feel comfortable with different aspects of emotional responsibility for children, provides a potential solution to this dilemma. Her results indicated that men tended to excel in aspects of emotional responsibility for children that involved playfulness, fun, encouraging risk taking, and promoting independence. Perhaps if each spouse retains responsibility for the aspects of emotion work for children that they feel most comfortable with this will result in enhanced marital satisfaction without compromising the well-being of children. Such a solution, however, has the potential negative result of encouraging gender differences in parenting. Nonetheless, the ndings suggest that striking a satisfactory emotion work for children arrangement stands to promote marital satisfaction, as suggested by previous research pertaining to household task arrangements (e.g. Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983). The results of this study should be interpreted in light of two primary limitations. First, the use of a regional sample serves to reduce external validity, and as is the case with all regional samples the results should not be generalized to other populations. A second limitation concerns the use of a quantitative measure of emotion work that may not fully tap into the nuances of the provision of emotional support, as this variable may be more amenable to qualitative investigation. Nonetheless, we do view the study as being one key piece of the puzzle in examining the relationships between emotion work and marital satisfaction, and it serves to complement other studies that take a qualitative approach to examine similar issues (e.g. Doucet, 2006). In conclusion, this study is a rst step towards clarifying how the emotional terrain of both parenting and marriage relate to marital satisfaction. It is among the rst of studies to elucidate how the division of labor surrounding emotion work for children is related to

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marital satisfactionan important undertaking given the increasing societal focus on family as a site for the caretaking of emotions (Cherlin, 2004; Wilcox & Nock, 2006, 2007). In general, the ndings reveal that both performing emotion work for a spouse and receiving emotion work from a spouse are related to higher levels of marital satisfaction for husbands and wives. A slightly different picture emerges when we consider emotion work for children, as husbands appear to be most satised when they are performing some emotion work for children but not as much as their wives are performing. In other words, husbands appear to want to be involved in this labor, but too much involvement which occurs when the division of this labor is approaching or exceeding equality has the potential to detract from husbands marital satisfaction. By the time a score of performing emotion work for children equally with their spouse is reported, husbands marital satisfaction begins to decline. This study highlights that in negotiating the emotional dynamics of family life that parents appear to walk a tightrope between, on the one hand, providing emotional support to their children, while on the other hand making sure that the division of labor surrounding emotion work for children is one that does not detract from marital satisfaction. Future studies would do well to further examine how the emotional caretaking of children relates to marital satisfaction.

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