Couple agreement and disagreement regarding attitudes towards breadwinning: Implications for marital well -being

Ashley Marie Harvey, Purdue University


The primary focus of this study was to discern the relationship between couple agreement or disagreement about attitudes towards breadwinning, or provider role attitudes, and relationship well-being. It was hypothesized that couples who disagreed about provider role attitudes would have lower marital well-being, on average, than couples who agreed about provider role attitudes. Specific patterns of dyadic agreement or disagreement were investigated in association with couples' marital well-being. Also examined were the moderating effects of the frequency of couples' demand-withdraw interactions on the relationship between agreement or disagreement regarding provider role attitudes and marital well-being. A specific goal guiding this research was to obtain findings useful in guiding therapists working with dual-earner couples. The convenience sample consisted of 139 dual earner married couples with a middle-school aged child. Mixed model ANOVAs were conducted using both the full sample (n = 139) and a sub-sample of couples in which both spouses worked full-time (n = 98). Results for the full sample showed that couple agreement or disagreement was not significantly associated with marital satisfaction or stability. However, results for the sub-sample of full-time workers indicated that wives in disagreeing couples reported significantly lower marital stability than wives in agreeing couples. Also in line with the hypotheses, for the sub-sample of couples working full-time, husband-demand/wife-withdraw moderated the relationship between couple agreement and disagreement about provider role attitudes and marital satisfaction. More specifically, among couples in which both spouses worked full-time and reported higher (but not lower) frequencies of husband-demand/wife-withdraw, husbands in agreeing couples reported significantly higher marital satisfaction than husbands in disagreeing couples. Regarding marital stability and contrary to hypotheses, only when couples reported lower (but not higher) frequencies of demand-withdraw, were there significant differences between couple who agreed and disagreed about provider role attitudes. Regarding clinical implications, these findings suggest that therapists working with full-time dual-earners need to assess for agreement or disagreement about provider role attitudes and help clients resolve such disagreements, and in doing so pay particular attention to any simultaneous patterns of husband-demand/wife-withdraw.




Sprenkle, Purdue University.

Subject Area

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

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