Integrating the Structure and Process of Marital Commitment: How Do Moral and Personal Commitment Protect Families Facing Financial Difficulties?

Jeff Dew, Pennsylvania State University
David Eggebeen, Pennsylvania State University

Marital commitment has been shown to be an important component of marital stability. It is less clear, however, how commitment works to reduce divorce proneness in the context of nonnormative family stress. The purpose of this study is to test mechanisms through which commitment protects marriage and reduces divorce proneness during financial difficulties. Preliminary findings indicate that feelings of benefiting from the marriage (personal commitment) enables spouses to avoid increased negative behaviors during financial strain. To a lesser extent than personal commitment, commitment to the institution of marriage (moral commitment) also reduces negative behaviors during strain. Moral commitment also reduces divorce proneness during financial strain independent of other mechanisms. However, neither personal nor moral commitment help couples avoid viewing their finances negatively.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Union Formation and Dissolution and Parents' Living Arrangements