Marital Troubles in Older Couples: Positivity, Personality and Health

James Iveniuk, University of Chicago
Edward O. Laumann, University of Chicago
Martha McClintock, University of Chicago
Andrew D. Tiedt, NORC at the University of Chicago

In this paper, we examine the implications of health and personality characteristics for marital conflict, using dyadic data from the 2010 wave of the National Social Life Health and Aging Project (NSHAP), a nationally-representative probability survey, which interviewed both members of 955 couples, aged 36 to 99. We find that wives with husbands in worse physical health are more likely to report increased levels of marital troubles, but that wives in worse physical health do not appear to trouble their husbands. Furthermore, husbands' personality characteristics predict more marital conflict, but wives' personality characteristics are seemingly of no consequence. Specifically, higher levels of husbands' extraversion, lower levels of agreeableness, high neuroticism, and low levels of a new measure, which we name positivity, all contribute to increased marital conflict, according to wives' reports. Couples where both partners report marital conflict are also typified by husbands with high neuroticism, and low positivity.

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Presented in Poster Session 8