Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Shelley M. MacDermid Wadsworth

Committee Chair

Shelley M. MacDermid Wadsworth

Committee Member 1

James G. Anderson

Committee Member 2

Melissa M. Franks

Committee Member 3

Cleveland G. Shields


Family caregivers make important contributions to care recipients and the economy. However, providing care for ill or disabled family members can be challenging, particularly when the role of caregiver is accompanied by additional roles such as employee, spouse, and parent ( Hammer & Neal, 2008). There is some evidence that the demands of caregiving may negatively influence the quality of caregivers’ marriages (Bookwala, 2009). Much of caregiving research, however, is focused on the influence of caregiving and multiple caregiving roles on caregivers’ health (see Pinquart & Sörensen, 2011), but less attention has been paid to other aspects of caregivers’ lives such as marital relationships (Bookwala, 2009). Therefore, grounded in Conservation of Resources (COR) theory, I sort to understand the mechanisms through which supervisor support in the workplace can permeate the family domain and influence employed caregivers’ marriages through relationships with work-to-family conflict and family strain. The sample for this study came from the second wave of the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study — a national study of health and well-being of U.S. adults. Data collection comprised 30-minute telephone interviews and two self-administered questionnaires. The study sample included 254 employed family caregivers who had been married for on average 23 years. Using Structural Equations Modeling (SEM) I assessed direct relationships between marital satisfaction and (1) work-to-family conflictand (2) family strain. I also investigated whether supervisor support moderated the relationships between marital satisfaction and work and family stressors. Study findings provided partial support for COR theory. Analyses revealed a significant negative relationship between family strain and marital satisfaction, but a non-significant relationship between work-to-family conflict and marital satisfaction. Contrary to expectations, supervisor support did not moderate the relationships between work-to-family conflict and marital satisfaction or family strain and marital satisfaction. In addition, no differences were found in models for groups defined by amount (i.e., hours of care) and type (caregiving only versus caregiving and parenting) of caregiving responsibilities. Post-hoc probing of group differences in the relationship between work-to-family conflict and marital satisfaction, however indicated a negative relationship for caregivers who solely provide care to loved ones, but not for caregivers who also parent dependent children. Implications for COR theory and directions for future cross-domain, stress, and marital satisfaction research are discussed.