PERCEPTIONS OF FAMILY INTERACTION
OF DUAL CAREER AND TRADITIONAL COUPLES
DAVID CHARLES WILLIAMS
DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
The author wishes to express his sincere appreciation to all of
whose who have helped make this study possible. In particular, the
author would like to thank Dr. Ellen S. Amatea who has served as the
chairperson of his doctoral committee and has provided continuous
guidance, support, and suggestions. Sincere appreciation also goes
to Dr. James Algina for his patience and practicality. Dr. Paul Schauble
is also thanked for his support.
Of importance are the numerous professors from the University of
Florida and their spouses who gave so freely of their time in helping
the author conduct this study.
While too numerous to specifically mention, deep appreciation is
extended to close friends, professional colleagues, his staff at the
Adult Clinic of the North Central Florida Community Mental Health Center,
his family at the Crossroads Church of Christ, and Jesus Christ.
Much love is extended to the author's parents, Robert and Betty
Williams, for their continuous support, deep faith, complete confidence
and unending dedication. Enough could not be said of their love for
Most importantly, love, appreciation, and gratitude are extended
to the author's wife, Eru Ann Williams. She provided patience, love,
support, self sacrifice, and endurance which has only caused their love
to grow deeper.
Also, thanks go the author's son, Christopher, whose interruptions
served to add a little sunshine to an otherwise tedious task.
Lastly, thanks go to all of you who have touched this author's
life in ways which will never leave him the same.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. . . ii
LIST OF TABLES . . vi
LIST OF FIGURES. . . vii
ABSTRACT .. . . ..... viii
I INTRODUCTION ... .. .......... 1
Scope of the Problem .. 1
Theoretical Rationale. .. 5
Need for the Study ............... 8
Purpose of the Study ....... ........ 10
Definition of Terms. . 10
Organization of the Study. . 11
II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ..... 12
Evolution of the Dual Career Family Form 12
Role Expectations of Dual Career Couples 15
Dual Career Issues and Coping Styles 18
Concepts of Family Health. . 21
Research on Family and Marital Cohesion. 25
Research on Family and Marital Adaptability. 27
Research Studies on Cohesion and Adaptability. 29
Marital Satisfaction .. 31
Summary ... . .. 34
III RESEARCH METHODOLOGY .. .. 35
Population . .. 35
Sampling Procedures. . 37
Research Questions . 39
Instrumentation . 40
Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation
Scale. . . 40
Marital Satisfaction Scale . 44
Demographic Data Sheet. .. . 47
Data Collection. ..... . 47
Limitations of the Study ..... 47
IV RESULTS ...... . 48
Statistical Description of the Sample. 49
Comparisons of Dual Career and Traditional Per-
ceptions of Family Interaction and Marital Satis-
faction. ..... .... 52
Comparisons of Perceptions of Family Interaction
and Marital Satisfaction as a Function of Length
of Marriage, Age, and Presence of Children 53
Correlations of Family Interaction Variables
and Length of Marriage, Age, and Presence of
Children. . . .. 54
Husbands. . . 58
Wives ...... ............. 58
V SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR
FUTURE RESEARCH .............. 61
Summary ......... ............ 61
Discussion. . . .. 62
Limitations . .... 72
Conclusions ..... ......... 73
Recommendations for Future Research ...... 74
A DEMOGRAPHIC DATA SHEET. . 77
B TELEPHONE PRESENTATION FOR SUBJECT SOLICITATION 79
C DUAL CAREER FAMILY PROJECT. . 81
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . 83
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. . . 95
LIST OF TABLES
1 COMPARISON SAMPLE OF PROFESSORS. .. 36
2 NUMBER OF YEARS MARRIED. . 37
3 NUMBER OF YEARS IN CAREER. . .. 37
4 DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS FOR COHESION, ADAPT-
ABILITY, MARITAL SATISFACTION AND YEARS OF
MARRIAGE ...... ............. 50
5 COUPLES WITH AND WITHOUT CHILDREN. .. 51
6 T-TESTS COMPARING FAMILY TYPES ON COHESION,
ADAPTABILITY, AND MARITAL SATISFACTION 53
7 SUMMARY OF TESTS OF INTERACTION OF TYPE OF
FAMILY WITH AGE, NUMBER OF YEARS MARRIED, AND
PRESENCE OF CHILDREN . ... 55
8 CORRELATIONS BETWEEN NUMBER OF YEARS MARRIED,
AGE, AND COHESION, ADAPTABILITY AND MARITAL
SATISFACTION ............... 57
9 SUMMARY OF F TESTS COMPARING PRESENCE AND
ABSENCE OF CHILDREN ON COHESION, ADPATABILITY
AND MARITAL SATISFACTION .. 59
10 FACES II: CUTTING POINTS (NORMS). .. 65
LIST OF FIGURES
1 NUMBER OF YEARS MARRIED. . .
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council of
the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
PERCEPTIONS OF FAMILY INTERACTION
OF DUAL CAREER AND TRADITIONAL COUPLES
DAVID CHARLES WILLIAMS
Chairperson: Dr. Ellen S. Amatea
Major Department: Counselor Education
Previous research with dual career couples has indicated that
dual careerists report greater stress and decreased marital satisfac-
tion in comparison to traditional couples. The purpose of this study was
to compare dual career and traditional couples in terms of their percep-
tions of their families' cohesion and adaptability, and their reported
level of marital satisfaction. Traditional and dual career husbands
and traditional and dual career wives were compared on these three
variables. Differences between these groups were also assessed as a
function of age, length of marriage, and presence of children.
Family adaptability and cohesion were measured by means of the
Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale II. Marital satis-
faction was assessed with the Marital Satisfaction Scale. Information re-
garding demographic variables was collected through a demographic data sheet.
Data were collected on 72 couples who were university faculty and
spouses and were selected at random. All data were collected through
mail-out procedures to maintain respondent anonymity.
The t-tests assessing the differences between dual career and
traditional husbands and wives on the variables of cohesion, adaptability,
and marital satisfaction revealed no significant differences between
groups. Differences between groups were also examined as a function of
age, length of marriage, and presence of children through analysis of
covariance procedures. The only interaction noted was between adapt-
ability and years married for dual career and traditional wives. Both
younger traditional and older dual career wives reported higher adapt-
ability within their families than did older traditional and younger dual
career wives. Correlations were also computed relating each of the three
variables as a function of age, years married, and presence of children.
An inverse relationship was noted between cohesion and years married for
the husbands' and wives' groups. A positive correlation was noted
between adaptability and presence of children for the wives' groups.
In contrast, cohesion scores correlated negatively with the presence of
children for the husbands' groups. No significant correlations were
found between marital satisfaction and age, length of marriage, and
presence of children for these groups.
These findings stand in contrast to earlier dual career studies.
Implications for future research are discussed.
The American family has undergone radical change during the past
decade. One major change has been the trend toward husband and wife
jointly participating in wage earning for the family. Married women's
participation in the labor force doubled in frequency between 1900 and
1940, and doubled again between 1940 and 1960 (Troll, 1971). Many women
discovered that working not only brought additional income into the family,
but was quite personally satisfying and ego enhancing (Hunt & Hunt, 1977;
Rapoport & Rapoport, 1975). The family in which both partners view their
employment as permanent, continuous, voluntary, and satisfying has sub-
sequently emerged as a special type of family form known as the dual
career family (Rapoport & Rapoport, 1969).
The increased involvement of women in the work force has resulted
in certain changes within the structure of the family. Roles have
altered, child care arrangements have diversified, and the management of
time and stress have become important issues. Such changes have not always
been viewed favorably. Historically many persons have viewed the traditional
family with the husband as "sole breadwinner" as the ideal standard for
family life and functioning (Vincent, 1966). Adult masculinity itself is
still equated exclusively with successful work role performance. Deviations
from these accepted norms have caused concern as to how the family might be
affected emotionally. Several authors maintain that the emergence of
nontraditional family forms such as the dual career family have con-
tributed to the weakening of the institution of the family (Hunt &
Hunt, 1977; Nisbet, 1953; Parsons & Bales, 1955). Many feared that
problems would be created in marital and family relationships and ad-
justment to new roles would be extremely difficult for all individuals
Is the traditional family structure with the husband working and
the wife at home more satisfying than the dual career family structure
in which both adults are involved in careers? Orden and Bradburn (1969)
found that wives who had both a job and preschool children reported more
stress in their marital relationship than did full-time homemakers.
Heckman, Bryson and Bryson (1977) described dual career wives as re-
porting a wider variety of problems in adjusting to the lifestyle than did
dual career husbands. In sampling the attitudes of dual career husbands,
Burke and Weir (1976) found them reporting less satisfaction and support
within their marital relationship than did the traditional husbands.
Most family researchers take issue with these findings. They suggest
that satisfaction with a lifestyle depends more upon the quality of the
family's emotional involvement and interrelationships than upon the
specific family structure. Marotz-Baden, Adams, Buecke, Munro, and Munro
(1979), for example, maintain that the manner in which individuals relate
to each other in the family is the most important determinant of emotional
well-being. Following this line of thought, Maccoby (1958) and Hoffman
(1974) contend that not only does maternal employment have very little to do
with problems in the family, but employed mothers are viewed as very
important role models. Harrell and Ridley (1975) also observed that
employed mothers provided quality mother-child interactions.
Such conflicting literature frequently seems designed to prove one
family form superior to the other. Approaching this important issue by
examining each lifestyle in terms of the differing expectations dual career
and traditional husbands and dual career and traditional wives hold for
family interaction may be more productive. Since both dual career and
traditional families now comprise significant portions of the overall
population, a comparison of the needs and expectations of spouses in each
of these family types may provide a wider spectrum of information as to
what contributes to the growth and well-being of members in each of these
family forms. This would enable their unique needs to be met and particular
Scope of the Problem
The dual career couple, a form of the dual income family, has been
considered a less desirable family structure by some experts (Burke &
Weir, 1977). The dual career family has been viewed as insufficient in
providing the necessary emotional support and security needed to insure
a positive emotional family environment. Research writers have reported
dual career husbands describing the marital relationship as less satis-
factory than traditional husbands because they feel less support from their
wives (Burke & Weir, 1976). Bailyn (1970) in assessing 222 couples reported
that dual career marital relationships could be threatened if the wife was
too overly committed to her career. Statistics also indicate that dual
career couples are more likely to divorce than the general population
(Berman, Sachs, & Lief, 1975; Housekneckt and Spanier, 1980). Others
document the dual career couple experiencing increased internal and ex-
ternal family stress due to the newness of their lifestyle (Bain, 1978),
difficulties in resolving role strain (Epstein, 1971; Rapoport & Rapoport,
1971), a more limited spectrum of friends (Rapoport & Rapoport, 1976),
less contact with kinship relations (St. John-Parsons, 1978), decreased
attention to household duties (Blood & Wolfe, 1960), reduced quality of
care and emotional development of children (Miller, 1976; bMore, 1969;
Woods, 1972), and a desire for fewer children (Hall & Hall, 1979).
Many researchers interpret these findings as deficiencies in the dual
career family. Is the dual career family a less functional family form
or do its members possess both differing needs and expectations? Those who
support the dual career family insist that it is, in fact, a more satisfying
and growth enhancing lifestyle than that provided by the traditional family.
Literature describes dual career couples as reporting satisfactory relation-
ships when they both agree upon their lifestyle and mutually support each
other (Orden & Bradburn, 1969). Research on dual career women characterizes
them as being more productive than other females in their respective pro-
fessions (Bryson, Bryson, Licht & Licht, 1976), able to adjust to role
strain and marital stress (Holahan and Gilbert, 1979; Poloma, 1972),
encouraging more independence in their children (Hoffman, 1974), and enjoying
a higher standard of living (Rapoport & Rapoport, 1971). Still others
insist that the mother who is involved in a career does not negatively affect
the child (Burchinal, 1963; Hoffman, 1974; Rossi, 1965).
While proponents of the traditional and dual career family forms
continue to mount evidence to support their views, the dual career family
form has not been directly evaluated in terms of family member's inter-
actional preferences. Past research efforts have attempted to document
such observed problems in dual career marriages as role overload, con-
flicts in personal and social norms, development of a social network,
and role cycling dilemmas (Rapoport & Rapoport, 1969); difficulties in
marital adjustment between working and non-working women (Staines, Pleck,
Shepard, & O'Conner, 1978); and the potentially unhealthy implications
upon the family structure due to current social trends (Parsons & Bales,1955).
Yet little has been done to note the strengths of each family form as a
legitimate lifestyle whose members have distinctive interactional preferences.
An approach which attempts to describe the personal preferences of family
members in terms of chosen lifestyle and interactional patterns may clarify
whether and in what ways each family form satisfies its members.
Two constructs which have frequently been used to describe family
interaction are those of cohesion and adaptability (Olson & Craddock, 1980).
In reviewing 29 articles of the literature spanning a twenty year period
on dimensions of family assessment, Fisher (1976) noted that 26 contained
factors which were a part of the two dimensions of cohesion and adaptability.
Noted family theorists such as Minuchin (1974) and Minuchin & Fishman (1981)
have also emphasized the importance of balanced family relationships and
flexibility in adapting to problems. In developing a conceptual clustering
of over 50 marriage and family dynamics, Olson, Sprenkle and Russell (1979)
identified cohesion and adaptability as two encompassing dimensions which
emerged. Olson, Russell, and Sprenkle (1980) noted that both the quality
of the relationships among members (cohesion) and their ability to success-
fully adjust to change (adaptability) determined the level of healthiness
in a family. Barnhill (1979) reviewed current theoretical literature on
family functioning and identified common factors describing optimal family
emotional development. Of these, individuation, mutuality, and clear
generational boundaries related directly to the overall dimension of
cohesion; while flexibility, stability, and role reciprocity related
directly to the overall dimension of adaptability.
Cohesion is the emotional bonding that family members experience
within their relationships coupled with the degree of their own individual
autonomy. Hicks and Platt (1970) found that happiness in a marriage de-
pends upon the extent to which the partner's expectations are being met in
their relationship. If both assess their individual expectations as being
met, they feel satisfied and supported in the marriage. Burke and Weir (1976)
affirm the necessity for mutual support among members of dual career families.
In fact, a lack of this support creates dissatisfaction in the husband toward
the marital relationship. Rapoport and Rapoport (1976) note the increased
reliance of the dual career family upon immediate family members in lieu
of outside relationships because of the lack of time available for socializing.
This places an even greater responsibility upon the marital and family unit
to provide the closeness and emotional security each individual needs. Co-
hesiveness within the dual career structure may therefore be much more
essential to the well-being of the individual than perhaps previously assumed.
The second dimension of family health, adaptability, refers to the
ability of the family system to change in response to situational or
developmental stress. Vincent (1967) emphasized the paramount importance
of the family adapting to various societal changes. The family unit has
historically been considered the "shock absorber" through which outside
changes were filtered and eventually translated in a more palliative manner
to the individual (Hill, 1971). It has provided a natural support system
or "buffer" against the stresses and problems of the outside world. If
this vital function is not offered, the individual family member becomes
more vulnerable to the negative effects of these influences. A balance
of flexibility and stability within a family toward the environment is
therefore necessary to respond in a healthy manner to changes that occur.
Rapoport (1962) has suggested that families must be able to adapt to the
normal transitional crises of parenthood, placement of children in school,
adolescence, children leaving home, and retirement. When these transitions
are not smoothly adjusted to, the individual and family unit can be adversely
affected. This is another reason why the introduction of both adults into
careers particularly creates a need for effective adaptability toward change
within a family (Johnson & Johnson, 1977).
Both cohesion and adaptability have been used to construct a typology
of family functioning called the circumplex model. Olson, Sprenkle, and
Russell (1979) identified cohesion and adaptability as the two variables
which provide a specific measure of family interaction. The circumplex model
has sixteen types of family interaction styles based on a family's level of
cohesion and adaptability. Some of these styles are more healthy than others.
By assessing r.ach of these two dimensions in both dual career and traditional
couples, certain trends could emerge based upon the typologies each of these
lifestyles most commonly reflect.
Need for the Study
Research on the dual career family form has focused almost exclusively
upon either describing the inherent problems of the dual career lifestyle
or more recently, the perceived advantages. Limited attention has been
given to the interactional preferences, personal needs, and sources of
emotional satisfaction of its members.
There is a need to evaluate the dual career family form by examining
husbands' and wives' perceptions of family interaction. How emotionally
close do they feel toward each other and how do these mates respond to daily
changes and demands? Are the interactions of dual career and traditional
mates significantly different?
One criticism of the dual career form has been the reduction in time
family members have together and therefore the closeness those relationships
possibly miss. Hoffman (1974),on the other hand, suggests that such draw-
backs can be compensated for if proper planning is made especially where
working mothers are concerned. Of particular significance is how these
family members adjust so that their emotional needs, family relationships,
and vocational needs are satisfied. Perhaps the dual career family feels
as satisfied as other family types because of how they as a unit have
adapted to this preferred lifestyle. How are their perceptions of family
interaction different from those of traditional family members?
There is also a need to evaluate this family form developmentally.
bost dual career research has examined the lifestyle in a static manner
without considering the natural changes that occur at different family stages.
Obviously, family interaction may differ in later years. Although literature
has focused upon how dual career females attempt to adjust to the many
pressures and conflicts created by their varied role commitments, few
articles describe the evolving nature of this adjustment process (Skinner,
1980). Do dual career mates eventually adapt to the many demands and compli-
cations their lifestyle produces? Research on developmental stages in the
life cycle of families has gained more widespread attention. Literature
addressing family stages of development, relationships in the family, and
adaptability toward change has proliferated (Rhodes, 1977). An evaluation
of the dual career family at different ages in their development could
prove invaluable to learning more about the distinctive features of this
Lastly, the majority of research studies comparing dual career and
traditional families have used heterogeneous samples involving individuals
from many job areas (Boothe, 1977; Burke & Weir, 1976; Safilios-Rothschild,
1970; Thomson, 1980). Few comparison studies have used homogeneous samples
with at least one spouse engaged in the same occupation (Bryson, Bryson,
Licht, & Licht, 1976). Since a homogeneous sample might control for
extraneous variables which could affect the outcome of the study, specific
interactional preferences might be more clearly attributed to family form.
There is a need to compare the interactional preferences of dual career
and traditional couples who are homogeneous in respect to socioeconomic
class and occupational value structures in a developmental context.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to compare the perceptions of family
cohesion, family adaptability, and marital satisfaction of individuals
in traditional and dual career marriages. Differences between dual
career and traditional husbands and between dual career and traditional
wives were examined interms of these three dimensions. These dimen-
sions were also compared across groups as a function of length of marriage,
age, and the presence of children. Specific research questions addressed
in this study were (1) Were there differences on perceptions of family
interaction within dual career and traditional husbands' or wives' groups?
(2) Were there differences in marital satisfaction between these groups?
(3) Were differences between the groups in perceptions of family inter-
action or marital satisfaction influenced by length of marriage, age, or
the presence of children? (4) What relationships existed between cohesion,
adaptability, and marital satisfaction and age, length of marriage and
presence of children for husbands' or wives' groups if dual career and
traditional groups were combined? Data from three different instruments
were used to address these questions.
Definition of Terms
Cohesion. Cohesion is the emotional bonding that family members
have toward one another and the degree of individual autonomy they
experience (Olson, Russell, & Sprenkle, 1980). The perceptions of
closeness within the family are considered on a continuum. This
continuum ranges from extremely low or disengaged to extremely high
Adaptability. This is the ability of a marital or family system to
change its power structure, role relationships, and relationship rules
in response to situational and developmental stress (Olson, Russell,
& Sprenkle, 1980). Perceptions of flexibility toward change are also
considered on a continuum. This continuum ranges from extremely low or
rigid to extremely high or chaotic.
Income Earning Job. This encompasses any type of part-time or full-
time employment that is not intended to be a continuous or permanent
Career. A career is a profession or vocation that both requires
a high degree of commitment and has a permanent and continuous develop-
mental character (Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 1968;
Rapoport & Rapoport, 1971).
Traditional Family. A family in which only one head of the house-
hold, the male, pursues a permanent career is a traditional family.
Dual Career Family. The dual career family is one in which both
heads of household pursue permanent and developmentally continuous careers
and at the same time maintain a family life together (Rapoport & Rapoport,
Dual Worker Family. A family in which both heads of household are
involved in vocations although at least one does not view their employ-
ment as a permanent career is considered a dual worker family.
Organization of the Study
The remainder of the study is organized into four chapters. Chapter
II contains a review of the literature related to traditional and dual
career couples, the dimensions of family cohesion and adaptability, and
marital satisfaction. A discussion of the research methodology and data
collection procedures is in Chapter III. The results of the study are pre-
sented in Chapter IV including analysis of data. Chapter V contains a sum-
mary, conclusions made from the investigation and recommendations for
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
A review of the related literature will focus upon the evolution
and characteristics of dual career families. Research on family cohesion
and adaptability will also be examined. A description of the marital
satisfaction research literature will complete this chapter.
The trend toward the dual career family form has contributed to a
variety of changes in the American society. Many issues have been raised
concerning the preferences and special needs of these individuals. Be-
cause of the unique differences in this group, past research has tried
to examine how this lifestyle began, its present effects, and future
Evolution of the Dual Career Family Form
The traditional family has long existed with the husband employed
outside the home and the wife employed inside the home. Post World War
II values also supported this arrangement with the male maintaining a
job that primarily provided economic security and status regardless of
its existing drawbacks. In later years, variables such as defining one's
identity through the work role, experiencing a sense of personal accomp-
lishment, learning and developing new skills, and increasing freedom on
the job have become some of the more important aspects of a vocation
(Hall & Hall, 1979). With the increasing emphasis on job satisfaction,
personal fulfillment, and economic security, many women also began to
enter the work force on a full and part-time basis (Rapoport & Rapoport,
1975). While they generally began working out of economic necessity,
today many are employed out of personal choice (Orden and Bradburn, 1969).
Although Parsons and Bales (1955) very strongly argued that traditional
worker marriages represent the most functional family structure, increas-
ing numbers of married women continue to enter the labor market. Women
who wished to work instead of rearing a family were initially regarded
as aggressive and frightened of the maternal role (Rapoport & Rapoport,
1971). While many of these feelings have generally changed, attitudes
toward employed women with children have continued to be negative (Mason
& Bumpass,1975; Retert & Bumpass, 1974).
One of the most widely accepted typologies of factors influencing
the employment of women was developed by Sobel (1963). This typology
defined three sets of factors that influenced the future working plans
of wives. These included 1) enabling conditions, such as number of children
and other family status variables; 2) facilitating conditions, involving
availability of jobs and educational level; and 3) precipitating conditions,
such as financial need and attitudinal variables (Gorden & Kammeyer,
1980). Some of the more specific factors motivating the employment of
women included financial need, interaction with others, a sense of com-
petence, need for accomplishment, self-confidence, and the use of one's
abilities (Beckman & Houser, 1979; Hoffman & Nye, 1974; Sobel, 1963, 1973).
Gordon and Kammeyer (1980) found that in a longitudinal study of 735 women,
economic need was still the most prominent factor influencing the employ-
ment of women with young children. Hiller and Philliber(1980) noted that
a lower family income level and a high occupational prestige potential
increased the probability that a married woman would enter the labor
force. Apparently all these conditions and factors have contributed
favorably to the emergence of women into the job market.
From 1950 to 1974 the proportion of married women in the labor force
rose from 23.8 percent to 43 percent (Locksley, 1980). Currently, 52
percent of the total labor force is composed of female workers. While
there are presently more women in the labor market, 80 percent are still
employed in traditional jobs such as secretaries, clerks, and waitresses.
Women also earn only about 60 percent of the salary a male earns (Langway,
Lord, Reese, Simons, Maitland, Gelman, and Whitman, 1980). Yet, in spite
of these drawbacks women have continued to seek various types of employment.
In reviewing the history of the entrance of women into the world of
employment, it is apparent that they have made many sacrifices to become
a competitive part of the labor force. Because of the inequities that
have long existed in the jobs, status, and salaries of women, full-time
career commitments have become more lucrative than temporary or nominal
employment. Career-oriented women therefore have significantly contributed
to the emergence of the dual career couple. This new lifestyle is respons-
ible for a variety of adjustments in the marriage and family. These ad-
justments involve how the couples maintain their own relationship as well
as their relationships to their children, and how the family reacts to
changes that occur in this lifestyle.
Role Expectations of Dual Career Couples
The traditional couple has historically been viewed as a family
unit in which the husband pursued a permanent career outside the
home while the wife maintained a variety of responsibilities inside
the home. Conceptually this relationship was established in a comple-
mentary fashion with each adult bearing certain responsibilities for
the benefit of the entire family. Bernard (1974) noted that historically
men have combined a professional career and parenting more easily than
women because less has been expected of men with regard to internal
family responsibilities. Womenwho have subscribed to more traditional
norms have therefore been less likely to be employed outside the home
(Kelly, 1976; Scanzoni, 1975). Some of the reasons cited against women
being employed have included traditional values, role strain, less time
for other activities, conflict with size of family desired, marital
adjustment problems, and less attention to household responsibilities
(Bahr & Day,1978; Blood & Wolfe, 1960; Burke & Weir, 1976; Hoffman, 1960;
Walker, 1970). Interestingly enough, Zeldow (1976) found that men were
typically more traditional than women in their attitudes toward women's
roles. The traditional career couple has also been found to have a
lower divorce rate than both dual career couples and the general popula-
tion (Berman, Sachs & Lief, 1975).
Despite these issues, there has been a steady increase in women
entering the labor force since 1950 (Carnegie Commission on Higher
Education, 1973). Yet dual career couples surprisingly have exhibited
characteristics that are somewhat traditional in nature. Some dual career
couples have been found to behave as traditional couples in their roles at
home (Epstein, 1971; Hall & Hall, 1979; Heckman, Bryson & Bryson, 1977).
This implies that there are still many role-related responsibilities which
husbands and wives traditionally maintain. Keith and Brubaker(1979) noted
that many responsibilities for running the home were still assumed by
In a survey of approximately 80 psychology-related professional
pairs, wives were more willing to make sacrifices for their husband's
careers than they expected their husbands to make for theirs. Even in
this more equality-conscious group, the husband's career position was
still considered foremost (Bryson, Bryson, Licht and Licht, 1976).
In dual career couples who were forced to live apart temporarily,
it was discovered that the traditional marriage was the standard upon
which they assessed their own nontraditional relationship (Gross, 1980).
It appears that in many ways, traditional family role expectations still
significantly influence the lifestyle of the dual career couple (Keith &
The lifestyle of the dual career couple has also proven to be unique
in many ways. Rice (1979) characterized dual careerists as possessing a
strong need for achievement, reliance on an extrinsic reward system,
hesitancy to make sustained interpersonal commitments, and vulnerability
to self-esteem injury through dependency, frustration, and fear of failure.
As individuals, Rice described them as independent, self-absorbed, highly
motivated and self-sufficient. Because of this, many dual career couples
often establish their occupational direction before having children
(Rapoport & Rapoport, 1971). This enables them to receive the training
and experience necessary to guarantee continued growth and advancement
in their chosen field. Hill and Rogers (1964) noted that dual career
pairs had their children over a more compressed time period. In addition,
Hall and Hall(1979) found that dual career couples generally had fewer
children and later pregnancies.
While much evidence has accumulated regarding the detrimental
effects of working mothers upon children, Pendelton, Poloma and Garland
(1980) found that employed mothers perceived themselves as being better
parents than they would have been had they not worked. Orden and
Bradburn (1969) also reported a higher level of marital happiness in
both husband and wife when the wife was in the labor market out of
choice rather than necessity. In fact, dual career couples reported
experiencing a more positive reaction to marital stress, if they both
maintained a rather high commitment to their careers (Holahan & Gilbert,
Dual career couples also had a rather high standard of living
(Rapoport & Rapoport, 1971). The 1980 census bureau reported that the
dual wage earning family had an average income of $20,900 per year. It
would reasonably follow that the dual career couple could easily exceed
this average by virtue of their commitment and general longitudinal
employment in a career as opposed to a job.
Dual Career Issues and Coping Styles
There appears to be several common issues and concerns dual
career couples typically confront. The first issue involves the
internal stress of the lifestyle. There are many personally ambivalent
feelings husbands and wives experience when both are working full-
time in a career. Often each holds certain values about the role expecta-
tions they have for their mate (Kaley, 1971). Career women appear less
able than men to reduce role-strain stemming from dual career situations
because of gender-linked sociological, psychological, and psychodynamic
factors (Johnson & Johnson, 1977). Regardless of what personal preferences
an individual holds, his or her own sense of what society approves of
influences them. Trying to successfully balance these differing ex-
pectations seems to create tension, anxiety, and internal stress. Such
feelings of role overload are perhaps the most commonly documented
dilemma facing dual career couples (Epstein, 1971; Garland, 1972;
Heckman, Bryson & Bryson, 1977; Holmstrom, 1972; Poloma, 1972;
Rapoport & Rapoport; 1976; St. John-Parsons, 1978).
The second major problem area involves external stress. A
career is a responsibility that demands a significant amount of dedica-
tion and commitment especially in terms of time. This has been one of
the greatest concerns for the working wife and mother (Orden & Bradburn,
1969). Often, there is not enough time to be employed full-time, main-
tain a household, attend to the marital relationship, and personally
recuperate. The presence and number of children increase the strain
and pressures experienced (Bryson & Bryson, 1978; Keith & Schafer,
1980). Holahan and Gilbert (1979) noted that the dual career couple with
children consistently experienced more stress than the dual career couple
without children. Johnson and Johnson (1977) noted that all wives in
their sample of 28 dual career families reported major concerns over
conflict between their careers and children. These opinions were also
shared by some husbands who felt that the children suffered because of
their wives' employment (Axelson, 1963, 1970). Remedies to the common
dilemma include planning and postponing parenthood. The stage of the
family life cycle has also been found to increase or decrease the external
stress within the family (Skinner, 1980). The dual career couple who
have not yet had children or whose children have already left home seem
to experience a less complicated lifestyle than the dual career couple
who still have children in the home (Holmstron, 1972; Rapoport & Rapoport,
The final area of difficulty for the dual career couple involves
that of maintaining relationships. Generally both individuals in the
marriage experience an increase in pressure and demands that can detract
from the total amount of time and energy available for the marital
relationship (Nadelson & Eisenberg, 1977). Some husbands view their
wives working as a positive experience while others see themselves as
losing part of their support system (Rapoport & Rapoport, 1975). Re-
search cited by Burke and Weir (1976) indicates that husbands experience
less emotional support from their working wives. Other husbands accept
the dual career arrangement out of a a sense of fair play and want their
wives to be happy (Bebbington,1973). Skinner (1980) noted that the type
of relationship necessary to maintain a mutually acceptable marital
arrangement involves balancing both the advantages and the disadvantages
of the dual career lifestyle. Without a supportive husband who is willing
to sympathize with the aspirations of his wife, it is difficult for
a woman to develop a career pattern (Bailyn, 1970). In spite of the
adjustments many working couples have made so that both individuals
could pursue career goals, Berman, Sachs, Lief (1975) noted a higher
divorce rate among dual career couples than among both traditional
couples and the general population. This implies that the dual career
transition has not evolved without its share of problems.
Dual career couples have also noted concerns about maintain
interpersonal and familial relationships. St. John-Parson (1978) noted
that some kinship relations deteriorate over time when the dual career
couple cannot meet the expected social obligations. Rapoport and Rapoport
(1976) also found problems in balancing these relationships with their
career and domestic responsibilities.
Dual career couples have made certain adjustments in their effort
to contend with the problems specific to their lifestyle. Many couples
have established themselves occupationally before having children to
avoid some of the naturally occurring stresses that child-rearing
creates (Holmstron, 1972; Rapoport & Rapoport, 1976). Poloma (1972)
noted four tension management techniques regularly utilized by dual
career women. These included 1) reducing dissonance by defining the
dual career pattern as favorable to other alternatives, 2) establishing
the priority of placing the family needs first, 3) compromising career
aspirations to meet other role demands, and 4) separating business
and family problems.
McCubbin (1979) found that adaptation in the form of prioritizing
and compromising was a necessary coping strategy to reduce stress and
role strain in dual career couples. Rapoport and Rapoport (1976) also
emphasized the importance of achieving a balance between the rewards
and stresses of this type of family.
Because the dual career couple has continued to emerge as a current
lifestyle, ongoing research is necessary to assess the needs this creates
within the family. While most families have some similar basic needs,
these family forms by virtue of their lifestyle have different preferences.
These differences can often promote or prevent a positive family environ-
ment depending upon how they influence family interactions.
Concepts of Family Health
The family is an important part of society whose well-being is
influenced by certain factors. These factors may contribute to or
detract from the growth of individual members. Modern family theorists
have maintained that the family is a complex adaptive system (Buckley,
1967; Hill, 1971). Within this system, the family is acted upon by
both outside societal influences and internal individual family members.
Their reactions to these various interchanges provide some indications
about the functioning level of the family unit. Since a healthy family
environment is necessary for the development of a well-rounded individual,
the manner in which the family responds to these internal and external
demands is imperative.
The characteristic of adaptability allows a family to adjust to
societal influences and internal issues in a healthy, viable way (Vincent,
1966). Therefore, a change in one part of the family system can be
absorbed or reacted to in a constructive manner. Modern systems theory
recognizes the complementarity of relationships among all the members
within a family. As individual family members respond to outside in-
fluences, the family must adapt and adjust or tension and conflict can
result. Changes that are too sudden or radical though can create a
breakdown in family functioning (Hill, 1971). Consequently, social
systems must be capable of altering their basic structure, organization,
and values in order to remain viable (Buckley, 1967).
Hess and Handel (1959) noted that the amount of closeness or
distance (cohesion) individual members of a family feel contributes to
the level of individual and family healthiness. Olson, Sprenkle and
Russell (1979) found a proper balance of cohesiveness within family
relationships cited by most family theorists as a requisite for positive
emotional growth and development. Rosenblatt and Titus (1976) also
encouraged a balance of togetherness and apartness among family members.
When a system is able to support and protect each of its members while
simultaneously encouraging maturity and individuation, an optimal environ-
ment exists (Bowen, 1978; Minuchin, 1974). A maximum viable social
system is characterized by complex structural relationships, high levels
of communication and interaction among its members and subsystems, a
highly flexible organization, and a minimum of rigid constraints (Hill,
1971). Aldous (1967) maintained that the family was similar to a social
system because of the following characteristics:l) family members
occupied various interdependent positions whereby some changes in the
behavior of one member ledto changes in other members; 2) the family
was a relatively closed, boundary maintaining unit; 3) the family was
an equilibrium-seeking and adaptive organization; and 4) the family
performed tasks which served the needs of internal members and external
Within these factors, the concepts of adaptability toward change
and cohesion within relationships appear frequently. Olson, Sprenkle
and Russell (1979) documented that over 50 psychological concepts re-
lated directly to family adaptability and cohesion. Otto (1962) reported
that the traits of a strong family included 1) concern for family unity,
loyalty, and interfamily cooperation, 2) the ability for self-help and
the ability to accept help when appropriate, 3) the ability to perform
family roles flexibly, 4) the ability to establish and maintain growth-
producing relationships inside and outside the family, and 5) the ability
to provide for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the family
members. The dimension of cohesion can be noted in the concern for family
unity and loyalty, the ability to seek self-help and outside help when
appropriate and the provision for the physical, emotional and spiritual
needs of the family members. The dimension of adaptability can be recog-
nized as interfamily cooperation, the ability to perform roles flexibly,
and the maintenance of growth-producing relationships inside and outside
The first significant family study to include both dimensions of
cohesion and adaptability was done by Angell (1936). His study involved
how families coped with the stresses and problems caused by the depression.
Instead of cohesion, Angell used the term "family integration." He de-
fined integration as "the bonds of coherence and unity running through
family life, of which common interests, affection, and a sense of economic
interdependence are perhaps the most prominent" (1936, p. 15). Adapt-
ability was viewedin terms of the family unit and related to the family's
flexibility in meeting difficulties, their readiness to react and ad-
just to changes, and the ways in which they made decisions. Families
were divided into categories of low, medium, and high on each dimension.
From this model, nine family types were described.
In his review of family assessment and health variables, Fisher
(1976) listed 29 articles related to optimal family functioning. Twenty-
six of these publications include elements related to cohesion and
After twenty years of systematic research, Epstein, Bishop and Levin
(1978) developed the McMaster Model of Family Functioning. This model
examines the level of healthiness within families. The theoretical con-
cepts used for diagnosis and intervention closely parallel the variables
related to the cohesion and adaptability dimensions in the Circumplex
Model (Olson, Russell & Sprenkle, 1980). These concepts include behavior
control, problem-solving, and roles (adaptability); and affective in-
Lewis, Beavers, Gossert, and Phillips (1976) developed the Family
System Rating Scales. These scales studied family interaction with
healthy and unhealthy families in an effort to assess how optimally
functioning families behaved. Of the thirteen subscales utilized in
this model, eight relate to the cohesion and adaptability dimensions.
Much of the research on family health variables focuses on two
areas. The first has involved the relationships of family members with
each other and others outside the family and includes assessment of the
level of closeness, distance, and independence each member experiences
individually and as a part of the family group. The second area involves
how the family reacts to influences, change, and stress placed upon them.
Research on Family and Marital Cohesion
In the last few years, there has been a significant amount of lit-
erature and research involving the dimension of cohesion in couples and
families. While a wide diversity of terms have been used, they have
often related directly to the concept of cohesion (Olson, Sprenkle &
Russell, 1979). Family cohesion is defined as the emotional bonding that
family members have toward one another and the degree of individual
autonomy they experience within the family system (Olson, Russell &
Sprenkle, 1980). Yalom (1970) maintained that cohesion was one of the
essential therapeutic factors necessary to make a group succeed as a
functional unit. In a study involving 92 couples in an alcohol treat-
ment program, Oxford, Oppenheimer, Egert, Hensman and Guthrie (1976)
found cohesive marriages were twice as likely to have a favorable treat-
ment outcome when compared to noncohesive marriages.
Hill (1949) investigated how 135 families dealt with war separa-
tion and reunion. He suggested that family integration was highly
significant in predicting success. Medium integration allowed family
members to respond in a healthy manner to both separation and reunion.
Bowen (1978) suggested the "differentiation of self" as the most healthy
emotional position for individuals. He advocated a balance of attach-
ment and separation from the family. Minuchin (1974) has maintained that
a healthy balance between enmeshment and disengagement was the most
therapeutic for a family. The more balanced and moderate area of co-
hesion has also been described often as mutuality (Wynne, Ryckoff, Day,
& Hirsch, 1958) and interdependence (Olson, 1972).
Kantor and Lehr (1975) pointed out that affective closeness was a
major goal within the family. They noted that fusion was defined as
extreme emotional unity in which boundaries were diffused. Alienation
occurred when individuals were locked into positions that made them un-
able to move and grow. Napier (1978) described unhealthy extremes of
cohesion in relationships as a "rejection-intrusion pattern" of emotion-
al abandonment or engulfment.
Extremely low cohesion has been described as scapegoating (Bell
& Vogel, 1960), expelling (Stierlen,1974) pseudo-hostility (Wynne,
Ryckoff, Day, & Hirsch, 1958), disengagement (Minuchin, 1974), schism
and skew (Lidz, Cornelison, Fleck & Terry, 1957), and emotional divorce
Extremely high cohesion has been called consensus sensitive (Reiss,
1971a, 1971b), enmeshment (Minuchin, 1974), binding (Stierlen, 1974),
undifferentiated ego mass and emotional fusion (Bowen, 1960). In
addition to earlier research, Druckman (1979) reported that families
with extremely high cohesion scores were more likely to have juvenile
delinquent recidivists than families with low or moderate scores on
In general, the literature has consistently supported the importance
of a moderate balance of cohesion within the family. Either extreme of
this dimension has indicated an increase of individual and family
Research on Family and Marital Adaptability
The dimension of adaptability toward change in individuals, couples,
and families has also recently achieved a great deal of attention in
the literature. The definition of adaptability is the ability of a
marital or family system to change its power structure, role relation-
ships, and relationship rules in response to situational and develop-
mental stress (Olson, Sprenkle & Russell, 1979). Kieren and Tallman
(1972) in an earlier study defined adaptability similarly as a spouse's
ability to deal effectively with a problem by changing roles and strategies
in terms of new or modified assessments of the situation. Vincent (1966)
maintained that adaptability in the family was the mediating process
which introduced changes from the larger society into the smaller family
unit. A healthy, adaptive family system maintains a dynamic balance be-
tween these changes and family stability (Brody, 1967; Wertheim, 1975).
Changes that are too sudden or radical cause a breakdown of structure and
functioning with the family (Hill, 1971).
Vincent, Weiss and Birchler (1975) found that nondistressed couples
emitted a balance of adaptive problem solving behavior and negotiation.
Distressed couples demonstrated a significantly greater proportion of
maladaptive problem solving behavior. Sprenkle and Olson (1978) found
that moderate adaptability in the form of an equalitarian marital leader-
ship style was associated with more adequate family functioning. The
wife-dominant power structure did not promote the same level of
healthiness. Family members needed to feel that the system was open
and flexible enough so they could provide input that would effectively
influence the decisions and affective tone of the family.
Balswick and Macrides (1975) measured the effectiveness of parent-
ing practices among a sample of 417 college students. They reported that
moderation achieved the most positive results. The extreme parenting
practices of rigid strictness and permissive flexibility fostered
greater rebellion in the subjects as children.
Extremely low adaptability has been described as inflexible,
rigid, and closed. In this type of system, the family is so homeostatic
and resistent to change that normal emotional growth stages do not
occur in the members (Minuchin, 1974). This immobility in the face of
stress when change and adaptation is needed creates pathology within
the family. Miller (1969) maintained that the level of functionality
or dysfunctionability in a family could be defined in terms of the
morphostasis (reaction to change) and homeostasis resistancee to change).
Extremely high adaptability has been described as chaotic and
lacking in structure. When there are few limits in a system with
highly fluctuating roles, a state of disorganization exists. Vincent
(1966) noted that when all parental control was lost, adaptability
became dysfunctional. Adult and sibling subsystems must exist to
provide the structures necessary to develop functionally. Being able
to reach general consensus in the family in relation to roles is critical
for effective problem solving (Bass, 1963; Hoffman, 1965; Maier & Hoffman,
A moderate balance of cohesion and adaptability appears toprovide
the most conducive environment for emotional growth and development for
both the individual and the family. Cohesion allows for the facilitation
of personal individuation and closeness in relationships. Adaptability
enables one to optimally adjust to changes and stresses that promote
growth, maturity and a healthy level of functioning. Extremes in either
of these dimensions can impede emotional progress.
Research Studies on Cohesion and Adaptability
The dimensions of cohesion and adaptability each individually
have a significant amount of research supporting their revelance to
family health. Additional studies have provided continuing evidence
for their combined use as accurate assessment dimensions of family
Hill (1949) used both of these dimensions in his study of how
families dealt with war separation and reunion. He combined integra-
tion and adaptability in a term named dynamic stability. This overall
measure gave an indication as to how each family reacted to the adjust-
ments and the consequences caused by the war. It was discovered that the
best overall adjustment to separation and reunion was experienced by
the medium integration-high adaptability type of family. This provided
partial support for a balance of these two dimensions.
Westley and Epstein (1969) did a study with 170 college students
and 88 families in Canada to assess what variables would distinguish
healthy family functioning from problem functioning. They utilized
the variables of problem solving, power, authority, and roles, which
are equated with the adaptability dimension of the Circumplex Model,
and the development of autonomy, which compares to family cohesion
(Olson, Russell & Sprenkle, 1980). The results indicated that a
harmonious husband-wife relationship was essential for the emotional
well-being of the adolescent. The father-led and democratic families
had more strengths and less problems, while the children from mother-
dominated or father-dominated homes had less strengths and more problems.
Families who encouraged the autonomy in individual members to make their
own decisions had significantly more healthy adolescents. This again
reinforces the importance of the two dimensions of cohesion and adapt-
Minuchin (1974) also maintained the importance of the disengaged-
enmeshed continuum, which relates to the cohesion dimension, and family
adaptation, which relates to the adaptability dimension. He reported
that extremes on either end of these continuums could create an unhealthy
family environment. For instance, in reference to cohesion, a highly
enmeshed relationship between mother and children would exclude father,
fostering disengagement on his part. The result could be the emotional,
developmental retardation of the children's independence and the erosion
of the marital relationship. It is also true that stress often causes a
need for adjustment and change. Since families go through transient
developmental stages, adaptation to the stress experienced is required.
Families who resist change in the face of stress often run the risk of
emotional unhealthiness within individual members. Therefore, a balance
of cohesion within relationships and adaptability toward change is
Van der Veen (1976) added empirical evidence to support cohesion
and adaptability as underlying dimensions of family behavior. He
constructed the Family Concepts Test containing 80 items thought to
provide a comprehensive view of family dynamics. The test was admin-
istered to a large sample of families containing disturbed and non-
disturbed adolescents using a Q-sort technique. A factor analysis was
used and the two higher order dimensions that emerged were family inte-
gration and adaptive coping. These are both parallel in meaning to
cohesion and adaptability described herein.
Fisher, Giblin, and Hoopes (1982) surveyed family members and
clinicians and discovered both groups reported the importance of cohesion
and adaptability as essential for healthy family functioning.
While past research has generally evaluated the dual career couple
by contrasting them with other lifestyles, little has been done to
explore how their preferred differences might actually enhance rather
than detract from their feelings of healthy family interaction.
The trend toward the dual career family has introduced a lifestyle
with a wide variety of needs, emphases, and preferences. This ever-
increasing family form has demonstrated the need for spouses to mutually
adjust traditional role expectations in order to deal with the specific
Marital satisfaction has been a prolific area of research in the
marriage and family field. One significant longitudinal study by Pineo
(1961) on couples who were inventoried upon engagement, again after 5
years, and a third time after twenty years suggested a general decline
in marital satisfaction. Later Paris and Paris (1966) found that
satisfied couples tended to report a decrease in marital satisfaction
while maritally dissatisfied couples reported an increase in marital
satisfaction. Research in the late 1960's by Hicks and Platt (1970)
noted a U-shaped relationship to satisfaction over time indicating
greater satisfaction at the beginning of the marriage, a decline in
the middle years, and an increase in later years.
Regarding dual career and traditional couples, Nye (1961) and
Gover (1963) found that employed wives had lower scores than non-employed
wives in marital adjustment, and that this difference was larger in
lower socio-economic groups. On the other hand, Orden and Bradburn
(1969) reported couples describing their relationships as satisfactory
when both spouses agreed upon their lifestyle and mutually supported
Bailyn (1970) noted that the dual career marital relationship
could be threatened if the wife was overly committed to her career to
the exclusion of her spouse.Safilios-Rothschild (1970) countered these
findings in her study stating that working women with a high work
commitment were more satisfied with their marriage than traditional
women. Holahan and Gilbert (1979) reported dual career couples experiencing
a more positive reaction to marital stress if they both maintained a
rather high commitment to their careers. Rapoport and Rapoport (1975)
noted mixed reactions by husbands with some viewing their dual careers
as a positive experience while others saw themselves losing part of their
Burke and Weir (1976) found working wives to be generally more
satisfied with their marriages than traditional wives, but the husbands
of working wives were less satisfied than husbands in the more tra-
ditional lifestyle. Booth (1977) refuted these findings stating that
husbands of employed wives evidenced no more signs of discord than
did the spouses of traditional wives.
Nadelson and Eisenburg (1977) reported that two careers definitely
increased the pressures and demands and decreased the time and energy
available for the marital relationship. Houseknecht and Macke (1981)
suggested that a family's willingness to adapt and adjust was more
important to marital satisfaction than employment status.
There is also some interesting research in regard to marital
quality and childrearing. Research in the 1960's found that the presence
of children tended to detract from the marriage. Feldman (1971)
using longitudinal data reported a decrease in marital satisfaction
after the birth of the first child with the greatest decreases occurring
in those couples who had initially reported the highest satisfaction.
Low marital satisfaction couples noted their children were the only source
of mutual satisfaction they shared (Bain, 1978). Houseknecht (1979)
found that women who were voluntarily childless exhibited higher marital
adjustment than did the mothers. Rosenblatt (1974) discovered that
couple's communication was significantly interfered with when children
were present. Consistent with other findings on marital satisfaction,
Gutmann (1975) noted that couples were close before and after childhood,
but further apart during parenthood. Lasswell (1974) suggested for the
optimal success of the marriage that the best years for childbirth
were considerably later than what the general national average was.
In regard to general marital satisfaction, Skinner (1980)
recommended dual career couples to develop a balance between ad-
vantages and disadvantages of their dual career lifestyle.
The dual career form evolved out of the needs of many women who
were finding satisfaction and fulfillment through a career. This
lifestyle has not developed without its own share of difficulties both
societally and within the family unit. Various coping styles have
emerged to manage these inherent stresses including reapportionment
of responsibilities in the home, postponement of childbearing, dis-
tinctive childcare arrangements, and mutual spouse compromise in a
variety of areas.
Because of the special needs of dual career couples, interest
exists as to how these individuals perceive their family interaction.
Examining mate's perceptions of family adaptability, cohesion, and
reported marital satisfaction could aid in understanding the needs of
individuals in this growing lifestyle.
The purpose of this study was to compare spouse perceptions
of cohesion, adaptability, and marital satisfaction in traditional
and dual career couples. Subjects were administered the Family Adapt-
ability and Cohesion Scale (FACES II), the Marital Satisfaction Scale
(MSS), and a demographic data sheet. Differences in dual career and
traditional husbands' and dual career and traditional wives' perceptions
were examined as a function of age, length of marriage, and presence of
This chapter is organized into the following sections of informa-
tion: population, sampling procedures, research questions, instrumentation,
methods of data collection and analysis, and limitations of the study.
The general population consisted of assistant, associate, and full
professors employed at the University of Florida and their spouses. Of
the 2,318 professors employed by the University of Florida, 268 are females
and 2,050 are males. A similar ratio of male and female assistant,
associate, and full professors was utilized in the sample.
Of the 202 who agreed to participate in the study, completed data
sets were returned by 72 professors and their spouses. A sample size of
144 subjects, 72 couples, was utilized for this study. Subjects had to
meet the criteria of having been married to their current spouse between
2 and 25 years, be Caucasian, and qualify as either being a member of a
traditional couple (the adult male was employed in a career), or a dual
career couple (both adults were employed in full or part-time careers of
twenty hours or more which they defined as their lifework). Subjects
ranged in age from 26 to 69 and were restricted to male and female Caucasians.
Table 1 provides a comparison of the research sample to the total population
of University of Florida professors by sex and professorship. Table 2
offers data on number of years married for the sample.
COMPARISON SAMPLE OF PROFESSORS
nales Males Females
4 17% 5%
2 28% 2%
1 46% 1%
as a percent of the total sample.
as a percent of the total population.
NUMBER OF YEARS MARRIED
N 68 72
I 15.4 14.6
SD 6.8 5.1
Range 2-25 2-25
Subjects were randomly selected from the University of Florida Staff
Directory. Every fourth faculty member in the directory was telephoned,
given a brief explanation of the study and invited to participate. Based
upon their willingness to participate in the study, a packet containing
the appropriate materials was mailed to them. Assignment to either the
traditional or dual career group was tentatively determined by responses
made over the telephone and later confirmed by the demographic data collected.
Table 3 provides a comparison of traditional and dual career individuals
and their number of years in a career.
NUMBER OF YEARS IN CAREER
DUAL CAREER TRADITIONAL
MALE FEMALE MALE FEMALE
N 31 32 36 35
I 14.2 9.1 13.7 11.8
SD 6 6.1 10.2 6.5
Range 2-28 1-23 3-47 1-25
Approximately 500 professors were informed and requested to
participate in the study. Approximately 300 of those contacted were
qualified to participate based on marital status, number of years
married, and career lifestyle. Of this sample, 202 couples agreed to
participate in the study. Others declined stating they were not inter-
ested, did not have time, would only participate if financial compensa-
tion were provided, or considered the subject matter too personal. Of
the 202 couples who agreed to participate, three couples returned their
packets too late to be included in the data analysis, four couples were
not Caucasion, 12 packets were returned untouched, two couples sent only
1 set of tests back, five couples had been married over 25 years, three
couples were dual worker families, one couple did not enclose the demo-
graphic data sheet, and one hundred and one couples did not return their
packets at all. The remaining seventy-two couples who returned com-
pleted packets were utilized in the study.
Six research questions were examined in this study:
1) Were there differences in perceptions of family cohesion, adapt-
ability or marital satisfaction between wives from dual career and tra-
2) Were there differences in perceptions of family cohesion, adapt-
ability, or marital satisfaction between husbands from dual career and
3) Were the differences in cohesion, adaptability, or marital satis-
faction between wives from dual career and traditional families dependent
upon the number of years married, age, or presence of children?
4) Were the differences in cohesion, adaptability, or marital satis-
faction, between husbands from dual career and traditional families
dependent upon the number of years married, age, or presence of children?
5) Were there relationships between cohesion, adaptability, or marital
satisfaction and number of years married, age, or presence of children
for both dual career and traditional wives?
6) Were there relationships between cohesion, adaptability, or marital
satisfaction and number of years married, age, or presence of children
for both dual career and traditional husbands?
Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale
This scale, developed by Olson, Bell, and Portner (1978) of the
University of Minnesota, is a pencil and paper, self-report instrument.
It assesses perceptions of closeness of family members (cohesion) and
flexibility toward change (adaptability). The two dimensions of cohesion
and adaptability consist of fourteen subscales. The eight subscales of
cohesion include emotional bonding, family boundaries, coalitions, time,
space, friends, decision making, and interests and recreation. The six
subscales of adaptability include assertiveness, leadership (control),
discipline, negotiation, roles, and rules. Two or three questions re-
lating to each of the fourteen subscales are incorporated into the
Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale.
The instrument utilizes a forced-choice format with responses of
5) Almost always; 4) Frequently; 3) Sometimes; 2) Once in a while;
1) Almost never. Subjects are asked to read each statement and make a
choice based on their perceptions of their family. The instrument is hand-
scored providing totals on both cohesion and adaptability dimensions.
The Cohesion scale rates one's perceptions of closeness in one's
family relationships on a continuum from low (disengaged) to high (en-
meshed). According to the authors a low score (disengaged) on cohesion
indicates high autonomy within the family but minimal bonding with
others. Medium cohesion (separated-connected) suggests a balanced
degree of closeness conducive to effective family functioning. This is
optimal for individual development. High cohesion (enmeshment) connotes
an over-identification with the family that results in extreme dependency
and limited individual autonomy (Olson, Sprenkle, & Russell, 1979).
The Adaptability scale rates one's perceptions of one's family's
ability to adjust to situational or developmental stress along a continuum
from low (rigidity) to high (chaos). Scoring low on adaptability in-
dicates significant homeostasis or resistance to change. This impedes
the normal transition through emotional maturational stages. The result
is rigid inflexibility to anything new or different. Medium adaptability
suggests a balance of stability and flexibility. This provides a secure
environment that is also receptive to normal crises of transition such as
parenthood, placement of children in school, adolescence, children leaving
home, and retirement (Rapoport, 1962). High adaptability connotes fre-
quent change and a lack of stability. This environment fosters a state
of disarray and chaos.
The cohesion and adaptability scales when tabulated provide an
assessment of the emotional environment of the family as perceived by
the individual. The authors of the instrument have done research which
combines the joint scores of couples and the family to achieve a family
functioning measure. In this study data collection was limited to in-
dividual spouse scores.
The FACES instrument, first introduced in 1978, was constructed to
assess Olson's Circumplex Model of family healthy functioning. The
Circumplex Model was the result of an attempt to create a theoretical,
methodological, and applied means of assessing family health (Olson,
Sprenkle & Russell, 1979). It was designed to be used in setting treatment
goals, and assessing treatment outcomes. The two dimensions of cohesion
and adaptability within the Circumplex Model have received a significant
amount of empirical support. Sprenkle and Olson (1978) discovered a
moderate balance of both cohesion and adaptability to be best for optimal
family functioning using the simulated Family Activity Measure and the
Circumplex Model. Russell (1979) noted that healthy family functioning
was associated with moderate family cohesion and adaptability and un-
healthy family functioning was associated with extreme scores on these
dimensions as measured by the Simulated Family Activity Measure and a
questionnaire assessing cohesion and adaptability. Druckman (1979) con-
cluded that clinical families in treatment improved and became more
moderate on both dimensions of cohesion and adaptability as measured
by the Moos Family Environment Scale and the Circumplex Model. Con-
struction of the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Scale began once the
empirical and conceptual bases for the Circumplex Model was established.
Initially a total of 204 statement which related to cohesion and
adaptability were collected by the authors. In order to assess the
content validity of the items, 35 clinical marriage and family experts
were used. They were asked to rate each item according to 1) whether it
tapped cohesion or adaptability, and 2) whether it indicated a low,
medium, or high level of that dimension on a 1-9 numerical scale.
Next, two different groups totalling 410 individuals at both the
University of Minnesota and Iowa State University took the questionnaire.
They were asked to answer each question according to how it related to
their own family on a continuum from (1) true none of the time to (4)
true all of the time. Factor analysis reduced the number of items to
a total of 111.
Olson, Bell and Portner (1978) established the norms for the Family
Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale (FACES) by administering it
to 603 individuals, or 201 families. Of these families, 53 were in
counseling at Youth Services Bureaus, 31 had runaway adolescents, and
117 were non-problem families.
Olson and Craddock (1980) established norms on an Australian sample
of 200 subjects at the University of Sidney. They represented all socio-
economic levels and ages ranged from 18 to 45. Norms for both American
and Australian subjects were quite similar and comparable.
Olson, Bell and Portner (1978) reported internal consistency reli-
abilities for these dimensions as .83 for cohesion and .75 for adapt-
ability. They also maintained that the instrument contained acceptable
content, face, and construct validity.
Russell (1979) established the independence of the dimensions of
cohesion and adaptability on Olson's Circumplex Model. Thirty-one
families with adolescents were used in the study and outcomes supported
moderate family cohesion and adaptability as more functional than either
Olson, Portner and Bell (1980) used FACES in conducting a study with
460 individuals, or 170 families. The results supported the Circumplex
Model which asserts that clinical families (problematic) are more likely
than non-clinical families (non-problematic) to fall outside the healthy
central region of the model. They are also less likely than non-
clinical families to be in consensus on each member's perception of
family cohesion and family adaptability.
The FACES II inventory was developed to provide a shorter instrument
which could be more easily used by children with limited reading ability.
A 5 point response scale ranging from "almost never" to "almost always"
was also added replacing the 4 point response scale. Questions with double
negatives and low factor loadings were eliminated. The resulting 90 items
from FACES II were given to 464 adults who had a mean age of 30.5. The
items were again reduced to 50 on the basis of factor analysis results.
These items were then administered to 400 adolescents and 1200 couples in
a national survey and reduced to the current 30 item inventory.
Olson,Bell and Portner (1982) maintained that the cohesion scales had
retained their independence and construct validity. The internal consistency
reliability for the revised FACES II was .87 for cohesion and .78 for
adaptability. Norms were established based on data from 2,082 parents and
416 adolescents. Olson (1983) maintains that FACES II demonstrates
excellent discriminant and predictive validity based on its success in
predicting balanced vs. extreme rankings on 1000 families with 85-90%
Marital Satisfaction Scale
The Marital Satisfaction Scale was developed to establish a short,
reliable and valid means of measuring marital satisfaction. Marital
satisfaction refers to an attitude of greater or lesser favorability toward
one's own marital relationship (Roach, Frazier, and Bowden, 1981).
The Marital Satisfaction Scale contains only 48 items and also has a
shorter form (B) which utilizes 24 items. Other instruments often ask
questions in a manner whose instrusiveness creates reluctance by the sub-
ject to answer the item accurately if at all. The Marital Satisfaction
Scale words the questions in a benign fashion utilizing a 5-point Likert
scale format with answers ranging from "strongly disagree" to "strongly
The Marital Satisfaction Scale was established after Straus (1969)
reviewed 319 family-related instruments and discovered only 14 had
established reliability and validity while only 4 were related conceptually
to marital satisfaction. The initial attempt to construct a new inventory
resulted in a 73 item instrument (Roach, 1975). A pilot study utilized
80 subjects ranging in age from 20-65 years who were either Caucasian or
black and either students or professionals in education or counseling.
A measure of internal consistency which considered all possible
split halves was established at .982. The first form of this test was
named the Marital Satisfaction Inventory.
Frazier (1976) used the Marital Satisfaction Inventory with a
sample of 309 subjects who were faculty and staff at two universities,
and adults in their twenties, college educated, and married. The in-
ternal consistency reliability was established at .969. Analysis also
indicated that concurrent validity was +.78 when correlated with scores on
the Locke-Wallace Adjustment Scale.
Bowden (1977) utilized a group of 30 satisfied and dissatisfied
couples in counseling to study the validity of the instrument. A comparison
of the means for both groups indicated a significant difference at the
.001 level. Discriminant validity was measured by correlating scores from
both the Marital Satisfaction Inventory and the Marriage Problem Checklist.
Results indicated that satisfied couples reported significantly fewer
problems than did the dissatisfied couples.
Thomson (1978) used the MSI as apre- and posttest measure of marital
satisfaction following a weekend sex therapy workshop. Nine couples
ranging from 20 to 50 years of age participated. The pre- and posttest
MSI measure was given three weeks apart and a post-posttest was conducted
eight weeks later. Results indicated statistically significant differences
between the pretest and the two posttest measures. The MSI appeared to
reflect attitude changes which followed brief treatment intervention.
Roach (1981) revised the Marital Satisfaction Inventory and renamed
it the Marital Satisfaction Scale. A subject sample of 463 participants
were given the Marital Satisfaction Scale resulting in a mean score for the
sample of 198.21 with a standard deviation of 29.68. A high internal
consistency reliability of .969 was determined. According to the author,
the Marital Satisfaction Scale also provides high item discrimination and
brevity, and constitutes a single factor scale.
Petzold (1983) noted that the instrument demonstrated high test-
retest reliability on a sex therapy intervention based treatment with
According to the author, there are currently 12 other studies being
conducted, the first of which will be completed within several months.
A great deal of attention is also being expended upon the shorter 24-item
Marital Satisfaction Scale because of its brevity and promise as an accurate
measure of marital satisfaction.
Demographic Data Sheet
This questionnaire was constructed by the author to collect
specific demographic information on each subject involved in the study.
Information was requested on age, sex, race, number of years married,
presence of children, job position, career stage, and combined income
Subjects who met the criteria defining a traditional or a dual
career couple and agreed to volunteer were mailed a packet containing
1) a letter briefly explaining the study (Appendix C),
2) a Demographic Data Sheet (Appendix A),
3) two Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale II
(FACE II) inventories,
4) two Marital Satisfaction Scales,
5) two legal size envelopes marked "Husband" and "Wife," and
6) a return-addressed, stamped manilla envelope.
Subjects were specifically requested to complete and mail the
inventories within two weeks.
Limitations of the Study
1) The sample for this study was chosen from all assistant, associate,
and full professors at the University of Florida. Since this is a
restricted population, results cannot be generalized to the popula-
tion as a whole.
2) It is important to note that all participants were volunteers.
Kerlinger (1973) has noted that volunteers, by the nature of their
willingness to participate, may bias their responses in a per-
ceived socially desirable way.
3) The Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale II and
the Marital Satisfaction Scale are relatively new instruments
and thus have had limited experience in the literature. They
demonstrate great potential in the area of the assessment of
individual and family dynamics and marital satisfaction. Currently
there are a large number of studies being conducted that will
add support to the validity they both have already established.
4) The study is descriptive and therefore does not use an experi-
mental design. Results are the perceptions of the subjects and
are subjective in nature.
The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of
family interaction and marital satisfaction held by spouses in dual
career and traditional marriages. University of Florida faculty
members and their spouses served as subjects in this study. Subjects
completed three instruments: the Family Adaptability and Cohesion
Evaluation Scale II (FACES II), the Marital Satisfaction Scale (MSS),
and a demographic data sheet. Self-reports of family cohesion and
adaptability were assessed through the use of the Family Adaptability
and Cohesion Evaluation Scale II. Marital satisfaction was measured
by the Marital Satisfaction Scale and information regarding length
of marriage, age, presence of children and occupational status was
collected by means of the demographic data sheet.
Perceptions of both dual career and traditional wives and of dual
career and traditional husbands were compared statistically on each of
the three variables of family cohesion, family adaptability, and marital
satisfaction. In addition, differences in the perceptions of each group
on each of the three variables were examined as a function of length of
marriage, age, and presence of children. The criterion for statistical
significance was set at the .05 level of significance.
In this chapter, the dual career and traditional couple samples
will be described. The t-test results comparing the means of both
dual career and traditional wives and dual career and traditional
husbands will also be presented. In addition, the results of the
multivariate analyses comparing differences between the groups as a
function of type of family, length of marriage, age, and presence of
children; and the correlations summarizing the relationships between
these demographic variables will be presented.
Statistical Description of the Sample
Information regarding age, length of marriage, presence of children,
cohesion, adaptability, and marital satisfaction was collected on 144
subjects. The traditional males (N=38) and females (N=38) had mean
ages of 40 and 38 with ranges of 30-65 years and 29-50 years respectively.
The dual career males (N=34) and females (N=34) had mean ages of 42 and
40 with ranges of 31-60 years and 26-69 years respectively. The tra-
ditional and dual career couples had length of marriage means of 14 years
and 15 years, respectively, with similar ranges of 2-25 years for both
groups. Table 4 shows the sample means and standard deviations on age,
number of years married, cohesion, adaptability, and marital satisfaction.
Inspection of Table 5 indicates there were 34 couples with children
(47% of the total sample) and 4 without children (6% of the total sample)
in the traditional sample. Twenty-four dual career couples had children
(33% of the total sample) while 10 couples (10% of the total sample) did not.
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COUPLES WITH AND WITHOUT CHILDREN
DUAL CAREER COUPLES TRADITIONAL COUPLES
Number of Percent of Number of Percent of
Couples Sample Couples Sample
With Children 24 33% 34 47%
Without Children 10 14% 4 6%
TOTAL 34 47% 38 53%
The mean marital satisfaction scores for traditional husbands and
traditional wives were 200.4 (S.D.=29.4) and 210.3 (S.D.=22.1) re-
spectively. Their scores ranged from 100-240 and from 129-236 respec-
tively. Dual career husbands and wives had mean scores of 200.3 (S.D.=
27.7) and 199.8 (S.D.=33.4), respectively. Roach (1981) noted on the
Marital Satisfaction Scale that the mean score for the normative sample
was 198.2 with a standard deviation of 29.7. The mean scores for all
four groups were similar to the normative score. The differences among
the groups were not significant. Only a slight trend toward higher
satisfaction was noted among the traditional wives whose mean score
average was 210.3.
The traditional husbands' and wives' mean scores on adaptability
were 48.3 (S.D.=5.1) and 48.2 (S.D.=5), respectively, while their
range of scores was both 33-55. The dual career husbands and wives
scored 46.6 (S.D.=7.3) and 48.4 (S.D.=6.4), respectively, while their
range of scores was 28-60 and 32-61, respectively. The scores of the
four groups compared closely to the healthy range of scores of the
normative sample. The differences among the groups, however, was not
significant on this factor.
On cohesion, traditional husbands and wives had mean scores of
64.3 (S.D.=9.5) and 66.6 (S.D.=8.1), respectively, with scores which
ranged, respectively, from 42-81 and 45-78. Dual career husbands and
wives scored 64 (S.D.=8.8) and 64.7 (S.D.=10.1), respectively, while
their range of scores was 42-79 and 22-78 respectively. There were no
significant differences among the groups on this factor.
Olson, Bell, and Portner (1982) reported on the Family Adaptability
and Cohesion Evaluation Scale II that the mean scores for the normative
sample on adaptability and cohesion were 49.9 (S.D.=6.6) and 64.9 (S.D.=
8.4) respectively. Those scores which fall within +1 standard devia-
tion are considered closest to the norm and healthiest. The sample
utilized in this study fell within this range.
Comparisons of Dual Career and Traditional Perceptions of Family
Interaction and Marital Satisfaction
T-tests were conducted to determine the level of significance of
the difference between means of dual career and traditional females and
dual career and traditional males. Wives' scores were compared with
each other as were husbands'.
The t-tests comparing dual career and traditional wives revealed
no significant differences on any of the three variables of adaptability,
cohesion, or marital satisfaction. The t-tests comparing dual career
and traditional husbands also revealed no significant differences on
any of the three variables. These results are reported in Table 6.
T-TESTS COMPARING FAMILY TYPES ON COHESION,
ADAPTABILITY, AND MARITAL SATISFACTION
COMPARISON OF COMPARISON OF
Dependent FEMALE GROUPS MALE GROUPS
Variable t P t P
Cohesion .87 .39 .14 .89
Adaptability .10 .93 1.12 .27
Satisfaction 1.59 .12 .00 1.00
Comparisons of Perceptions of Family Interaction and Marital Satisfaction
as a Function of Length of Marriage, Age, and Presence of Children
To test for an interaction between length of marriage or age, and
differences between dual career and traditional wives' scores an adapt-
ability, cohesion, or marital satisfaction, an analysis of covariance was
utilized. A similar analysis was conducted assessing the two groups of
husbands. A two way analysis of variance was used to identify possible
interactions between the presence of children and cohesion, adaptability,
or marital satisfaction for both groups.
The results of testing for possible interactions between age,
length of marriage or the presence of children with dual career and
traditional husbands on each of the above mentioned variables revealed
no significant interactions. Table 7 provides a summary of these results.
The results of testing for possible interactions of age or length
of marriage among the two groups of wives revealed only one significant
interaction. This interaction occurred between adaptability and the number
of years married. Figure 1 presents a graph showing the nature of this
interaction. Inspection of the figure shows traditional females report-
ing perceptions of higher adaptability in the first 10-12 years of
marriage. Both dual career and traditional females reported similar
adaptability during years 13-17. However, dual career females reported
increasingly higher perceptions of adaptability during years 18-25.
No other significant interactions were noted between age, length of marriage,
or presence of children and the variables of adaptability, cohesion, or
marital satisfaction. Table 7 presents a summary of these results as well.
Correlations of Family Interaction Variables and Length of Marriage,
Age, and Presence of Children
Correlations were computed for the combined wives' groups and the
combined husbands' groups relating cohesion, adaptability, and marital
satisfaction to number of years married and age, respectively. An analysis
of variance was conducted to assess the relationship between presence of
children and each of the three variables for both combined groups.
Results of these analyses for number of years married and age are reported
in Table 8 on each group.Results of the analysis of variance comparing the
absence and presence of children and the three variables are reported in
Table 9 for both groups.
SUMMARY OF TESTS OF INTERACTION OF TYPE
OF FAMILY WITH AGE, NUMBER OF YEARS MARRIED,
AND PRESENCE OF CHILDREN
Dependent Interaction Male Female
Variable Variable F P F P
Cohesion Number of 4.01 .31 3 .21
Adaptability .62 .65 3.64 .002
Satisfaction .45 .44 1.04 .62
Cohesion Age 1.03 .86 3.29 .51
Adaptability .93 .71 1.41 .46
Satisfaction .52 .53 1.66 .13
Cohesion Presence of 5.28 .39 .83 .76
Adaptability 1.2 .66 4.53 .85
Satisfaction 1.03 .18 1.1 .83
I I I I I I I I I I I I I
I D m m % L ) r -l
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CORRELATIONS BETWEEN NUMBER OF YEARS MARRIED,AGE,
AND COHESION, ADAPTABILITY AND MARITAL SATISFACTION
Number of Years
Female Number of Years
a p < .05
b Adaptability interacted with type of family so it is inappropriate to
- report a single correlation coefficient for these variables.
There were two types of relationships noted for dual career and
traditional husbands. The first was a significant negative relationship
between number of years married and cohesion (P=.001). That is, the
greater the number of years married, the lower were husbands' percep-
tions of cohesion. They felt closeness in the family was actually less
in the older marriages. The second significant relationship involved
cohesion and the presence of children (p=.002). Husbands in both dual
career and traditional families reported less cohesion with the presence
of children than did husbands' in both groups without children. It thus
appears that the introduction of children promoted feelings of reduced
emotional involvement in the family for the men. No other significant
relationships were noted for husbands.
There were several significant relationships noted for the combined
group of dual career and traditional wives. A marginally significant
relationship was noted between adaptability and age (P=0.059). Percep-
tions of higher adaptability were reported with increased age for wives.
That is, older wives viewed their family as more responsive to change
than did younger wives.
SUMMARY OF F TESTS COMPARING PRESENCE AND ABSENCE OF CHILDREN
ON COHESION, ADAPTABILITY AND MARITAL SATISFACTION
aF statistics obtained
marriage and presence
from a two way
ANOVA with factors of type of
Secondly, there was a significant negative relationship between cohesion
and age for wives (p=.004). Older women reported lower perceptions of
cohesion than did younger women. Thirdly, a significant negative relation-
ship was noted between cohesion and number of years married for the com-
bined wives' group (p=.01). Women who had been married longer reported
lower perceptions of cohesion than women in shorter term marriages.
Lastly, there was a significant relationship noted between adaptability
and presence of children (p=.0007). Women in both groups with children
reported perceptions of higher adaptability than did women in families
where children were absent. These results are reported in Table 8.
No significant relationships were noted between marital satisfac-
tion and any of the three variables for either the husbands' or wives'
groups. That is, there were no changes in marital satisfaction regard-
less of the fluctuations of the other variables.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
Four major research questions were addressed in this study. Were
there differences in perceptions of family cohesion and adaptability
between wives from dual career and traditional families and between
husbands from these two family types? Secondly, were there differences
in marital satisfaction reported between these groups? Third, did differ-
ences between groups on each of these three variables depend on number
of years married, age, or presence of children? Finally, were there
relationships between each of these three variables and years married,
age, and presence of children? A total of 72 couples, representing
24% of the total number of couples invited to participate and 36% of the
number who agreed, were included in this study.
A comparison of dual career and traditional wives' and dual career
and traditional husbands' perceptions of family cohesion and adaptability
and marital satisfaction revealed no significant differences between
participants of the two family forms.
Differences between the wives' groups and the husbands' groups on
each of the three variables were also examined as a function of length
of marriage, age, and presence of children. For husbands, there were
no significant interactions between differences in the two groups on
cohesion, adaptability, anu marital satisfaction and length of
marriage, age, or presence of children. In the wives' groups, however,
a significant interaction was noted between the two groups on perceptions
of adaptability and length of marriage. For combined wives' groups, sig-
nificant negative relationships were noted between cohesion and length of
marriage and cohesion and age. A significant relationship was noted be-
tween adaptability and the presence of children. For combined groups of
husbands, significant negative relationships were noted between cohesion
and length of marriage, and cohesion and presence of children.
Earlier studies have emphasized the potential problems caused by two
careers in the areas of role conflict, adjustment, and marital happiness
(Axelson, 1963; Bailyn, 1970; Burke & Weir, 1976). Many of these studies
reported relatively significant differences in stress and satisfaction
between participants of the dual career and traditional family lifestyles.
The results of this study did not support those findings. There were
no significant differences in perceptions of family cohesion, adapt-
ability, and marital satisfaction between the two groups. There may be
several explanations for this.
First, the subject sample utilized in this study was comprised of
university professors and spouses. University faculty are often more
sensitized to liberal social trends. Because of their heightened aware-
ness, they may be apt to accept and more easily adjust to variations in
lifestyles. Research indicates a higher educated, middle class sample
is more egalitarian in their roles and better problem solvers when
compared to the lower social strata (Tallman & Miller, 1974). In
addition, the average scores for all four groups in this study placed them
in either the structured-separated or structured-connected categories of
Olson's Circumplex Model of family types (Olson, Sprenkle, & Russell,
1979). These categories are two of the healthiest of the sixteen
typologies within the circumplex model. They represent a moderate
level of both cohesion and adaptability and are indicative of optimal
adjustment within the family. An inspection of Table 10 provides a
review of this homogeneous sample as it relates to Olson's model.
Differences in lifestyle may be an insignificant issue to this popula-
tion as a whole because of their similarities. Are their really no
differences between dual career and traditional couples or was this
sample so much alike that any differences were lost by virtue of their
context? Using a variety of homogeneous and heterogeneous samples in
different careers across different socioeconomic groups could perhaps
clarify which influences were more significant.
Secondly, the rapid assimilation and acceptance of the dual career
family form into society in recent years may indicate that it currently
has less of an influence on perceptions and family attitudes than
originally believed. The dual career family has received a great deal
of attention during the last decade both publically and in the literature.
These results may be an indication that it is receiving more widespread
acceptance and is fast becoming the norm rather than the exception.
Lastly, the results of this study indicated there were no differ-
ences in marital satisfaction found among dual career and traditional
couples. Previous research has noted differences between these groups
citing loss of support systems, stress and role conflicts as causing
difficulties in the dual career marriage. These lifestyles may be
equally enjoyed by the individuals participating in them if their in-
volvement is by choice. Personal preference is a significant factor
influencing individual satisfaction with one's lifestyle. Orden and
Bradburn (1969), for example, found that dual career women were
generally more satisfied if they were employed by choice rather than
out of economic necessity.
Therefore, the homogeneity of the sample, the possible acceptance
and assimilation of the different lifestyles, and effects of personal
choice or preference may have influenced the outcome and lack of
differences between samples noted in this study.
The only significant interaction in the study occurred between
differences between dual career and traditional wives on adaptability
and number of years married. The results indicated that traditional
wives reported higher adaptability in their families during the first
13 years of marriage while the dual career wives perceived their
families as less adaptable (Table 10). From years 13 through 17, how-
ever, both groups of wives reported similar perceptions of family
adaptability. From the seventeenth year of marriage onward the
traditional females reported less adaptability in their families than
did dual career wives whose adaptability ratings increased markedly.
A possible explanation for this trend may lie in a review of the
developmental nature of these lifestyles. During the initial years of
a dual career marriage, these wives experience the greatest number of
demands upon their time and energy (Rapoport F Rapoport, 1969). Such
demands involve managing a marriage, establishing oneself in a career,
children, housework, and more. Keith and Brubaker (1979) noted that on
the average, little has changed regarding the expectations and implementa-
tion of responsibilities in the home. Even though the wife was employed,
she was still expected by the family to perform the majority of the
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home-making tasks. Therefore, it is conceivable that the dual career
wives would perceive their families as less adaptable initially. While
the demands have increased significantly for the wife, the family
members may not respond or change their routines appreciably to accommo-
date to her needs. The dual career wives then must bear the respons-
ibilities of both a career and a homemaker, while needing a significant
amount of initial assistance by the family. Unfortunately, they often
fail to receive that assistance internally because of ingrained societal
roles, an initial lack of awareness on the part of the family, and slowly
changing mores. The interactional trend of this study may suggest that
after a period of years the wife becomes more capable of handling those
demands, the family members become more responsive to her needs, and
where there are children involved, they are then at an age of increased
The traditional wives, on the other hand, may not initially per-
ceive their lifestyle responsibilities as inequitable or requiring a
great deal of assistance. Their consistently decreasing level of re-
ported adaptability may indicate a tendency to remain in a fixed routine
which over time becomes less fulfilling. If there are still children in
the family, this period of childrearing is noted as generally more.
pressured and less satisfying (Hicks and Platt, 1970). Does the tra-
ditional structure become more entrenched rather than adaptive to change
over time? The implications are that while the dual career females and
their families may be getting use to their lifestyle, the traditional
females may be entering a different developmental stage. Perhaps the
later group begins perceiving their families as less adaptive to what-
ever changes they are beginning to experience during this period of time.
It is important also to note that this sample contains younger
and older couples who have not been followed over time but according
to the number of years married at the time of the study. In contrast
to the younger couples, older couples are a subset of those marriages
which have survived. People in marriages which have lasted from 17
to 25 years have continued to prefer their marriage and family arrange-
ment while earlier dissatisfied couples may have already left the marriage.
In addition, those in dual career marriages, having the financial means,
may have found divorce a more viable option as opposed to the traditional
marriages where adaptability was lower for wives. Thus, the sample is
not totally comparable on a continuum of years married and predictability.
This should be kept in mind when attaching implications to the results.
A longitudinal approach to studying these couples over time is strongly
suggested to examine the progress and development of the marriage,
family, and career.
Since no significant differences existed between groups, dual career
and traditional husbands groups were examined for significant correlations
on the three variables as a function of length of marriage, age, and
presence of children. Similar procedures were followed for the wives'
groups. Several significant relationships were revealed. Significant
positive relationships were noted in the combined wives' groups between
adaptability and the presence of children, and adaptability and age. Re-
sponsibilities naturally increase with age, the addition of children,
advancement in career, and especially if both adults are actively engaged
in careers (Skinner, 1980). Over time there may exist a greater re-
sponsiveness to demands and needed adjustments within the family.
Earlier research reported less adaptability to change when the wife
first entered a career (Rapoport & Rapoport, 1969). This meant that if
she was going to involve herself in a career, her responsibilities would
increase significantly while maintaining previous duties. This has not
remained the case ancd reallocation and sharing within the family has
increased (Skinner, 1980). Therefore, the wives in this study perceived
their families as becoming more accustomed over time to their chosen
lifestyle. Heckman, Bryson and Bryson (1977) reported that couples
who had been in their careers longer were better able to manage their
For husbands, no significant relationships were noted between adapt-
ability and length of marriage, age, or presence of children. Several
explanations could account for these results. Husbands may have been
more willing to accept whatever career lifestyle their wives wished to
choose. They may have perceived this preference as their wives' decision,
personal right, and responsibility if desired without viewing it in
positive or negative terms. Changes caused over time by their wives'
career may not have been seen as appreciable enough to interfere with
their relationship and therefore did not necessarily represent a loss
in support as previous research has reported (Burke & Weir, 1976).
For husbands marital satisfaction was not correlated with age, length
of marriage, or presence of children.
On the variable of cohesion several significant negative relation-
ships were noted. For the wives, cohesion in the family decreased as
age and the number of years married increased. Nadelson and Eisenburg
(1977) reported that one of the most important costs of the dual career
marriage was time lost from companionship. The many demands and re-
sponsibilities unfortunately compete with the closeness family members
experience (Rollins & Galligna, 1978). St. John-Parsons (1978) noted
that dual career couples in comparison to traditional couples often
found little time left to maintain important relationships even within
their extended families. While research has documented the demands
dual career couples experience, these results indicate that lowered
cohesion is found in the husbands and wives of both dual career and
traditional families. Hopkins and White (1978) have suggested implement-
ing regular family meetings to provide an opportunity for family members
to share time together and handle problems which often arise in daily
A significant negative relationship between cohesion and the presence
of children consistent with the above mentioned findings, was also noted
in the husbands' group. Husbands reported lowered cohesion with the
presence of children. Hicks and Platt (1970) reported that one of the
most surprising summaries of the marital research of the 1960's was the
conclusion that the presence of children detracted from the marital
quality of their parents. More recent research has continued to support
and confirm this relationship. For instance, Ryder (1973), using longi-
tudinal data, found for young couples with a new child compared to
controls who had no children, the fathers seemed to pay less attention
to the mothers. No decrease in marital satisfaction was noted though
Gutmann (1975) proposed the concept of the "marital diamond" suggesting
couples were close before and after parenthood but further apart emo-
tionally during parenthood. Parenthood also fostered more traditional
attitudes toward sex roles in the division of labor. Therefore, the
results of this study provide partial support to past research indicating
the husband's loss of exclusive domain and attention from his wife.
A significant relationship was noted between adaptability and presence
of children in the wives' group. Wives perceived their families as be-
coming more adaptable to change with the presence of children. These
findings are consistent with the above mentioned research suggesting that
wives assume much of the initial responsibility of childrearing. This
role places additional demands upon the wife and a naturally occurring
increase in flexibility toward change within the family.
No significant relationships on age or length of marriage and marital
satisfaction between dual career and traditional couples were found in this
study. These findings are in contrast to research results of recent years
which support decreased marital satisfaction during the middle years of
marriage. For example, Hicks and Platt (1970) reviewed numerous studies
which consistently supported a U-shaped trend in marital satisfaction in-
dicating high satisfaction at the beginning of marriage, lowered satisfac-
tion during middle years ,and increasing levels of satisfaction in latter
years of marriage. What do the results of this current study mean? Are
couples really less satisfied during the middle years of marriage or are
they just preoccupied with the demands of rearing a family, advancing in
a career, and maintaining all the other responsibilities of adulthood?
Is there a loss in marital satisfaction or, as the results in this study
suggest, a loweringof cohesion due to the demanding developmental state
in which the family is engaged?
There was a slight trend toward higher marital satisfaction in
traditional wives but to a nonsignificant degree. These results are
difficult to explain in relation to other studies which have documented
higher satisfaction in dual career wives over traditional wives (Burke &
Weir, 1976; Safilios-Rothschild, 1970). Would either of the above
mentioned results in this study haveremained consistent if couples
married longer than twenty-five years had been included in the sample?
These are issues beyond the scope of this study yet a longitudinal
approach with these two groups might be worthy of investigation in terms
of trends, changes, and patterns observed over time.
The findings of this study could lend support to the following summary
There were no overall differences between wives in dual career and
traditional couples and men in both groups on adaptability, cohesion, and
marital satisfaction. However, traditional wives perceived higher adapt-
ability than dual career wives during the first years of marriage. During
later years of marriage the reverse was true. Both groups of wives per-
ceived higher adaptability in the family with age and with the presence
On the other hand, wives in both dual career and traditional families
reported lowered cohesion or closeness with age and years married. Husbands
of both groups, likewise, reported perceptions of lowered cohesion both with
the greater the number of years married and with the presence of children.
Finally, for husbands and wives of both groups no relationship between
marital satisfaction and age, length of marriage, or presence of children
There were several limitations of this study. While this study
investigated couples married from 2 to 25 years, it was done at one
point in time. A longitudinal approach could use couples married a
similar length of time but evaluate these variables at various develop-
mental marriage and family stages. The benefits of this type of
approach would allow researchers to study naturally occurring changes
and problems at different times during a marriage.
Secondly, the sample of older couples was a subset of those who
have remained married and therefore does not include those individuals
who have chosen not to remain together. By virtue of this fact, perhaps
certain relevant issues affecting these lifestyles have been eliminated.
A longitudinal sample would include those marriages which did and did
not survive adding valuable information about certain predictable crisis
points and how they are typically dealt with.
A homogeneous sample was used in this study. Their similarities
could have minimized the outcomes. Therefore, a broader, more hetero-
geneous sample including different vocations or types of universities
could be considered in future research. By including different samples of
blue-collar, white-collar, and professional individuals, interactional
similarities and differences between the lifestyles might become more
evident. Universities identified as liberal, conservative, or religious
could add to these findings.
Finally, the subjects used in the sample were voluntary. There-
fore, social desirability and social representation are issues to con-
sider when interpreting results. Volunteers by virtue of their willing-
ness to participate bias the sample while those unwilling to participate
perhaps exclude divergent views which would significantly affect the
Dual career and traditional couples composed of professors and
their spouses from the University of Florida were tested using three
instruments: the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale
(FACE II), the Marital Satisfaction Scale (MSS), and the demographic
data sheet. Results of the first two research questions indicated no
overall differences between the wives of dual career and traditional
couples and the husbands of both groups on cohesion, adaptability, and
One significant interaction was noted between differences in dual
career and traditional wives' scores on family adaptability and number
of years married. Traditional wives reported perceptions of higher
adaptability in the early years of marriage while dual career wives
noted higher adaptability during later years. One is led to wonder if
each group of wives actually changed over time by virtue of their life-
style or if perhaps other confounding variables were involved. A
significant positive relationship was also noted between adaptability
scores for both of the groups of wives and the presence of children.
Husbands in both groups reported less closeness when children were
present in the family. This finding is consistent with current literature
indicating children affect and detract from the involvement of husbands
and wives. Both husbands and wives reported less cohesion the longer
they were married even though no differences were noted in marital sat-
isfaction. Wives also experienced less cohesion with age. Do husbands
and wives prefer to be less cohesive during this time because of multiple
demands and the developmental stage of marriage and family? Some of these
results support current literature yet some differences in past trends
were also noted suggesting the need for further investigation.
Recommendations for Future Research
Dual career and traditional husbands and wives were evaluated on
the variables of cohesion, adaptability, and marital satisfaction. Each
of these variables in both groups of husbands and wives were examined
as a function of number of years married, age, and presence of children.
Recommendations will address the need to further examine these variables
using heterogeneous samples, longitudinal research, stages of marital
and family development, and comparisons of real and ideal perceptions.
Results of this study support the need for additional research on
the variable of adaptability in wives and other family members when
wives make changes in their lifestyle. This study noted differences in
perceptions of adaptability between groups with age suggesting that
certain adjustments occur in families developmentally based on their
particular lifestyle. Do some family forms become more adaptive while
others more entrenched? This area needs to be explored in greater depth.
The use of heterogeneous samples are also recommended to determine
the consistency and applicability of results. Evaluating different
vocational groups may enable researchers to draw consistent conclusions
regarding the effects of specific family forms. The approach may also
reveal what other variables, if any, could be influencing the results.
Longitudinal studies would allow monitoring of the developmental
differences which occur over time with families. It could also help
us understand if and how the dual career lifestyle is being absorbed or
assimilated into our society. The longitudinal results would add
support to the literature and theory of developmental stages. This
approach would assess the different needs of the same family types at
different points in time.
Self-report inventories are often biased by the subjectivity and
social desirability of the subjects' responses. Individuals are like-
wise more prone to support the lifestyle which they have chosen. Com-
parisons of both the real and ideal perceptions of subjects toward their
lifestyles would identify areas of both satisfaction and dissatisfaction
in the dual career and traditional family. This could provide more in-
sights into the particular areas of unattended or unmentioned needs.
The concept of cohesion seems to be related but significantly
different from marital satisfaction. These results indicated that while
cohesion was low in the family under certain conditions, there was not
a corresponding decrease in marital satisfaction. There is a need for
further studies investigating reasons why cohesion decreases,in what
periods of marriage this occurs, and how it affects a couple's relation-
ship. This could also help clinicians identify and be aware of potential
crisis periods in the family.
Finally, an in-depth investigation of marital satisfaction with /
dual career and traditional couples at all stages of marriage is highly
recommended. Do levels of marital satisfaction differ at various points
in the marriage? A longitudinal approach with the same group of couples
over time and at different stages would provide invaluable insight into
changes couples naturally experience and how different variables such as
career, age, and children affect these stages.
The results of this study support the need to further investigate
the variables of family cohesion, family adaptability, and marital
satisfaction as they relate to dual career and traditional families.
The use of heterogeneous samples, longitudinal research, stages of
marital and family development, and comparisons of real and ideal per-
ceptions are specific focal areas recommended for future examination.
DEMOGRAPHIC DATA SHEET
1. Husband: Age Race Wife: Age Race
2. Number of years married:_ 3. Do you have children living at home:
4. Present Educational level. Husband; H.S. Tech. BA/BS
MA/MS Ed.S. Ed.D. Ph.D. ___ ABD_ Other _
Present Educational level. Wife: H.S. Tech. BA/BS
MA/MS Ed.S. Ed.D. Ph.D. ABD --Other
5. Husband: Current Position Title: As Ao Professor
a) # years Full-time # Part-time hrs?_
Wife: Current Position Title: As Ao Professor
Homemaker Other a) # yrs. FulT-ime
Job An area of work or employment that you do not define as permanent,
have a high commitment to, or consider your life's work.
Career A voluntary, continuous occupation considered to be your life's
work and to which you have a high commitment.
6. Husband: Do you perceive yourself as presently involved in a job or
a career ?
a) total # years in the general work force (any and all types of
b) total # years in current income-earning career (including present
Wife: Do you perceive yourself as presently involved in a job or
a career ?
a) total # years in the general work force (any and all types of
b) total # years in current income-earning career (including present
career position) / Not applicable. (I am a Homemaker).
7. Husband: Plan to continue career /job in the future?
Yes No Why?
Wife: Plan to continue career /job /homemaking in the
Yes No Why?
8. Husband: What stage are you in your career progress?
Initial Becoming Stable & Considering
Exploration Established Satisfied_ Career Change
Wife: What stage are you in your career progress?
Tnitial Becoming Stable & Considering
Exploration_ Established Satisfied Career Change__
9. Combined Family (Husband & Wife) Income Level
10. I would like a summary of the results.
TELEPHONE PRESENTATION FOR SUBJECT SOLICITATION
Hello, my name is D. Charles Williams. I am a doctoral candidate
in the Department of Counselor Education working in conjunction with
the Dual Career Family Project in Norman Hall here at the University of
I am exclusively using the University of Florida professors in a
dissertation study of Dual Career and Traditional Couples investigating
their perceptions of what family life is like today. A Dual Career couple
is defined as one in which each spouse is involved in a continuous,
voluntary occupation of at least 20 hours per week and toward which there
is a high level of commitment. A Traditional couple is one in which the
husband is involved in a career and the wife is primarily involved in
homemaking. I am also interested in couples who have been married between
2 and 25 years.
The study itself will only take about 30-40 minutes of both your and
your spouse's time. It will involve each of you answering two inventories
which I will mail to your home.
The study is confidential and all returned data is anonymous.
Would you be interested in participating in the study?
Are you and your spouse a Dual Career or a Traditional couple?
How long have you been married?
Is yourhome address still ?
You will be receiving a packet in the mail with instructions
enclosed within several days.
Thank you for your cooperation.
DUAL CAREER FAMILY PROJECT
University of FLorida
FACES II ITEMS
The following statements concern your current feelings, beliefs,
or attitudes toward your present immediate family. There are no right
or wrong responses to these statements. The answer that best describes
your family as it is right now is the desired response.
There are 30 items in this inventory for each statement, a five-
point scale is provided for indicating your response. Write the
appropriate number on the answer sheet to indicate your response to
Then go back through the statements a second time and indicate the
number that best describes how you would ideally like your immediate
family to be. Again, use the attached FACES II answer sheet.
Please do not share your answers with your spouse. When you have
completed both tests (FACES II & Marital Scale) fold and place them in
the appropriate envelope (husband or wife) and seal it. Then place
both envelopes in the large stamped, self-addressed envelope and mail
it back to me. All information collected is anonymous and confidential.
It is important that you fill these out within 2 weeks upon
receipt. If for some reason you are not able to participate as
agreed, merely place all contents in the self-addressed envelope
provided and mail back to me.
I certainly appreciate your participation and thank you for
David Charles Williams
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