Marital Dyads

  • William Fals-StewartEmail author
  • Wendy K. K. Lam
  • Michelle L. Kelley


Marriage in the United States is very clearly in a state of dynamic evolution, reflecting dramatically shifting social values and norms. Since the publication of the last edition of this book, the institution of marriage has continued to experience seismic change; perhaps most notably the legalization is some states of gay marriage (and heated legislative battles in many others). Contemporary times have more liberal attitudes about sexual relationships and physical intimacy, as well as ever-growing economic and political power of women in our society, not to mention substantial reforms in divorce law (Gurman, 2008). Yet, despite these seeming challenges to traditional marriage unions, the fortitude of promarriage sentiment and actions in the United States and in many other countries of the world remains.

Let us first consider a few prevalent manifestations of the state of marriage. Taken as a whole, about 62% of all marriages represent first-time marriages (Bramlett & Mosher, 2001; Kreider, 2005); roughly 72% of men and women have ever been married (Kreider, 2005). Although the oft-repeated divorce rate of 50% has declined somewhat over the past several years, the dissolution rate for first-time marriages is still alarming high at 43-46% (e.g., Schoen & Canudas-Romo, 2006; Schoen & Standish, 2001), particularly when one considers vows of “until death do us part.” Despite high divorce rates, divorced people try again. The rate of first remarriage is approximately 75%, yet the rate of divorce for second marriages hovers around 60%. Currently, it has been estimated that nuclear families containing the original mother, father, and children constitute only about 25% of American households and another 25% of the households contain step-families. The remaining households do not contain two parents. Rather, they are made up of single-parent families, singles in groups, and same-sex adults. However, recent increases in cohabitation obscure actual trends in nuclear family stability (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2007; Raley & Bumpass, 2003).


Domestic Violence Relationship Satisfaction Marital Satisfaction Initial Interview Marital Conflict 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to acknowledge Gary R. Birchler, Ph.D., whose insights and experience provided the foundation of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Fals-Stewart
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wendy K. K. Lam
    • 1
  • Michelle L. Kelley
    • 2
  1. 1.Addiction and Family Research & Wynne Center for Family Research, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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