The effects of voluntary childlessness or voluntary parenthood on marital satisfaction and communication

Carol J Golden-Scaduto, Pace University


This study compared voluntarily childless couples to voluntary parents on the variables of marital satisfaction and communication with the goal of contributing to a broader understanding of the marital relationship that chooses to remain childless and to diminish the negative stereotypes of this choice. Findings in the literature on the relationship between children and marital satisfaction and communication have been inconclusive, and relatively few studies have compared the voluntarily childless to voluntary parents with the appropriate controls. Even fewer studies have used both husbands and wives as subjects. The present study compared 23 voluntarily childless couples with 23 voluntary parents using the Marital Satisfaction Inventory and A Marital Communication Inventory. The data was analyzed using a Two-by-Two Mixed Model MANOVA in order to determine whether the subjects differed significantly on the measures. The findings indicated that there were no significant differences between voluntarily childless couples and voluntary parents on their reports of marital satisfaction or communication. However, Univariate ANOVAS performed after the MANOVA analyses revealed a significant difference between the two groups on the Family History of Distress Scale of the Marital Satisfaction Inventory with voluntarily childless couples showing a significantly higher history of family distress than parent couples. Findings also indicated that husbands differed significantly from their wives on their reports of marital satisfaction and communication. Specifically, husbands were more ineffective than their wives with problem solving communication and more dissatisfied with the sexual relationship whereas wives were more dissatisfied with affective communication, time spent together, and the global, overall quality of the relationship. Finally, parent wives were more successful than parent husbands at marital communication (p $<$.05). It is hoped that this research will lend support to the voluntarily childless lifestyle and will encourage professionals and lay people to be more aware of alternatives. It is expected that the findings might serve to encourage a new type of socialization and preparation for family life which would include implications for parent training as well as marriage, birth, and family counseling.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Golden-Scaduto, Carol J, "The effects of voluntary childlessness or voluntary parenthood on marital satisfaction and communication" (1989). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9011662.



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