Does the number of children take a role in marital dysfunction?
Materias Investigacion::Ciencias de la Salud::Psiquiatría y psicología
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INTRODUCTION The number of separations and divorces has dramatically increased in Europe in the last few years. In Spain, according to the last report of the Institute for Family Policies entitled “Evolution on the Family in Europe 2009”, the rate represents a 268% increase. Furthermore, birth rates have also decreased, with only 4% of families having three or more children. OBJECTIVES To analyse differences in marital and family functioning depending on the number of children. METHOD We studied a sample of 168 married couples who on their own initiative turned to the Diagnosis and Family Therapy Unit (UDITEF) at the University of Navarra Hospital (Spain) referring marital dysfunction. Sociodemographic data were gathered from all couples. They were asked to fill in the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) in order to assess marital dynamics and the Family Assessment Device (FAD) to assess family functioning. Statistic analysis was done with the SPSS (v. 15.0) program. RESULTS Out of the couples studied (N=168), 78 had three or more children, and 90 had less than three. Couples in large families had been married for a mean of 19.6+10.6 years, and nearly had four children (3.94+1.2) of ages in a range of 10 to 17 years. Couples in families with less than three children had been married for a mean of 13.7+10.3 and had a mean of one child (1.23+0.28) within an age range of 9 to 12 years. Statistic analysis of marital dynamics as measured with the DAS shows that there are statistically meaningful differences in the “Affective expression” subscale (p<0.05) both in husbands and wives. Concerning family functioning as measured by the FAD, we can find statistically meaningful differences in the subscale “communication” (p<0.05) measured in wives. CONCLUSIONS In our sample, marital dysfunction does not seem to be influenced by the number of children in the family. However, further research is necessary to study other variables that could also take a role, in order to get more accurate data.

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