Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Sciences (MSFS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Family Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Claudia J. Heath


This study examined how marital conflict and marital environment contribute to change in marital status over time; while controlling for gender and other demographic characteristics. The current study used all three waves, 1987-1988, 1992-1994, 2001-2002, of the nationally representative dataset National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH). Four longitudinal models were tested using path analysis and the Bayesian estimation technique. Findings indicate there is no effect of marital conflict on change in marital status when demographic and marital environment variables are in the model. Age has the strongest direct and indirect effects. An increase in number of times married consistently increases the chance of a change in marital status. Variables measuring the marital environment—with the exception of the effects of unfairness of chores and spending money in the male models—primarily, contribute direct and mediating effects on the two measures of marital conflict. Overall, when considering all models, the variable with the strongest direct and indirect effects, is age of the respondent. This finding indicates that the dominate influence on marital environment and marital conflict, and, ultimately, change in marital status, is that of age as a proxy for developmental change over the lifecycle.