Economic Strain and Subjective Well-Being in Married Couples With Children: A Dyadic Analysis

Marialena Kostouli, Despoina Xanthopoulou, Christina Athanasiades

Abstract


The aim of this dyadic study was to investigate whether the economic strain (i.e., perceived deterioration of the financial situation and difficulty to respond to family obligations) experienced by married couples with children relates to their satisfaction with life, and whether marital satisfaction and parental self-efficacy mediate this relationship. To this end, we took both actor (i.e., partners' economic strain was expected to relate to their own life satisfaction via their own marital satisfaction and parental self-agency), as well as partner (i.e., partners' economic strain was expected to relate to their spouses' life satisfaction via their spouse's marital satisfaction and parental self-agency) effects into account. A total of 134 married couples with children participated in the study. Dyadic analyses revealed that wives’ perceived difficulty to respond to family obligations related to their husbands’ life satisfaction, via their husbands’ parental self-agency. Moreover, annual family income related negatively to wives’ life satisfaction, via wives’ difficulty to respond to their family obligations. In addition, husbands’ deterioration
of their financial situation related negatively to their life satisfaction, via their marital satisfaction. Last but not least, husbands’ deterioration of their financial situation related negatively to their wives’ marital satisfaction and parental self-agency. These findings have important implications for counseling because they suggest that married couples' subjective well-being suffers in times of financial turmoil, while gender differences determine the psychological processes through which economic strain relates to husbands' and wives' life satisfaction.

Keywords


economic strain, dyadic analysis, life satisfaction, marital satisfaction, parental self-agency