Financial strain, trajectories of marital processes, and African American newlyweds' marital instability

Allen W. Barton, Chalandra M. Bryant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The present study examined the longitudinal associations among financial strain, trajectories of marital processes, and increases in marital instability concerns among a sample of 280 African American newlywed couples followed over the first 3 years of marriage. Results from dyadic structural equation modeling revealed that financial strain experienced during the early years of marriage was associated with increased marital instability concerns for both husbands and wives. Latent growth curves of marital processes revealed mean declines in appraisals of spousal warmth and increases in appraisals of spousal hostility, with variability between individuals in rates of decline in warmth; further, wives' appraisals of spousal warmth covaried with levels of financial strain, such that high levels of financial strain were associated with steeper declines in spousal warmth appraisals. For both husbands and wives, rates of change in spousal warmth appraisals had a greater influence on increases in marital instability concerns than either starting levels of spousal warmth appraisals or financial strain. Findings highlight the long-term associations between external stress and trajectories of marital appraisals as well as their relative effects on marital distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-664
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • African American
  • Financial strain
  • Instability
  • Marriage
  • Trajectories


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