Exploring the Role of Raising Children upon the Association between Perfectionism and Marital Satisfaction

Jessica Powell, Pace University

Abstract

Although every model of marital satisfaction includes individual personality traits as a pertinent factor in determining levels of satisfaction, few studies have directly examined how perfectionistic traits affect the quality of intimate relationships. Additionally, decades of research has found that marital quality decreases while couples are raising children. This study examined the relationships between three different dimensions of perfectionism (self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed perfectionism) and marital satisfaction, and whether these relationships are moderated by whether one is raising children. The study deemed individuals to be raising children when they had one or more children living with them and those who did not have children or had children who were no longer living with them were considered to not be raising children. I hypothesized that there would be a negative relationship between socially prescribed perfectionism and marital satisfaction, and that self-oriented perfectionism and other-oriented perfectionism would not have significant relationships with marital satisfaction. I also hypothesized that those raising children would report significantly lower levels of marital satisfaction than those not raising children. Further, I hypothesized that the negative association between socially prescribed perfectionism and martial satisfaction would be stronger for those raising children compared to those not raising children, and that the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and marital satisfaction would be significant and negative among people raising children, but nonsignificant among those not raising children. Raising children was not expected to moderate the relationship between other-oriented perfectionism and marital satisfaction. Participants were 383 married or cohabitating individuals over the age of 18. They were given questionnaires to assess their levels of self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed perfectionism and marital satisfaction. Findings indicated that all three dimensions of perfectionism were relevant to the quality of intimate relationships. The interpersonal dimensions of perfectionism, whether characterized by expecting one's partner to be perfect or believing one's significant other is expecting perfection (other-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism respectively), predicted higher levels of marital dissatisfaction. Expecting perfection of oneself (self-oriented perfectionism) was associated with higher levels of satisfaction in one's relationship. Consistent with previous studies, raising children was negatively correlated with marital satisfaction. Furthermore, raising children was found to moderate the relationship between socially prescribed perfectionism and marital satisfaction, such that the negative association between socially prescribed perfectionism and marital satisfaction was stronger for those raising children compared to those not raising children, although significant for both groups. Raising children did not moderate the relationship between self- or other-oriented perfectionism and marital satisfaction. Overall, this study highlights the importance of addressing perfectionism in the domain of intimate relationships. Findings indicate that expecting one's partner to be perfect or believing one's partner is expecting one to be perfect will negatively affect one's satisfaction in his/her relationship. This study supports the need for treatment interventions for those whose perfectionistic tendencies are interpersonal in nature and for couples during and throughout the transition to parenthood. Future studies can expand on the current study by including dyads and parent-child relationships to ascertain how one's perfectionistic tendencies affects his/her loved ones.^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Personality|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Jessica Powell, "Exploring the Role of Raising Children upon the Association between Perfectionism and Marital Satisfaction" (January 1, 2015). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI3662439.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI3662439

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