Distant Horizons: Marital expectations may be dampened by economic circumstances

Rachel Arocho, Claire M.Kamp Dush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Many cohabitors desire to marry someday, though actual expectations for marriage, particularly for when one expects to marry, may change over time. Cohabitors' expectations could be shaped by the characteristics of their relationship and their current socioeconomic circumstances. However, expectations to be wed within a certain time frame could also encourage behaviors to make marriage more attainable, such as by taking steps to increase financial security or improve the relationship. The present study drew on marital horizon theory and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 Child and Young Adult Cohort and used autoregressive cross-lagged structural equation models to examine reciprocal associations between cohabiting individuals' marital expectations, defined as years until they expected to marry, and relationship and socioeconomic characteristics. Cohabitors with greater education subsequently expected to marry sooner, and those who expected to marry later were subsequently more highly educated. Cohabitors with better educated partners also expected to marry sooner, as did cohabitors who were themselves employed full-time. Overall, results strengthened previous arguments for the importance of economic security for marriage, and extended these findings to suggest that even expectations for marriage may be hampered by poor socioeconomic status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalCouple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant DGE-1343012. Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This project was presented as an oral presentation at the 2016 annual meeting of the Population Association of America held in Washington, DC, USA

Funding Information:
This publication is supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology under the Strategic Project (UID/SOC/50012/2013).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.


  • Cohabitation
  • Economic issues
  • Marital expectations
  • Marital horizons
  • Relationship characteristics


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