Relationships

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Running Head: PARENTAL DIVORCE

The Effects of Parental Divorce on College Aged Females

The Effects of Parental Divorce on College Aged Females
Introduction
As divorce rates skyrocket to epidemic proportions—over 50 percent—the threat of short-length marriages weighs heavily on the next generation of adults (Bryant et al., 2001). Satisfying, longstanding relationships have become incredibly rare. Several studies have traced relationship conflict back to effects caused by parental divorce (Amato & Booth, 2001). These studies have also shown that parental divorce increases the risk of divorce in their offspring. Although ample work has been completed on this topic, a study has yet to examine the effects that parental marital status has on college-age females in relationships. Studies have suggested that females are more strongly impacted by parental divorce than males, making the topic particularly important (Amato & Booth, 2001).

Humans desire close intimate relationships and stability; however, most end in a confrontational manner. If relationship demise can be linked with parental relationship discordance, then it can be proposed that knowledge of relationship skills is transferrable across generations. This project is being implemented in order to investigate the effects of parental divorce on college-age females and their ability to predict romantic relationship failure and success. Literature Review

A healthy romantic relationship contains three basic components known as the “Triangular Theory of Love” (Fein et al., 2008). The first element is intimacy; romantic partners exhibit this aspect through the feeling of closeness and connectedness. The second element is passion; this aspect drives romance and physical attraction. The third is commitment; this prompts the decision for couples to remain together and create future plans with one another (Fein et al., 2008). A consummate love encompasses all three of these elements evenly and is the foundation for the ideal romantic relationship. Harmony between these three elements of the “Triangular Theory of Love” establishes the basis of what comprises a lasting, healthy relationship (Fein et al., 2008). Discordance of these elements can lead to relationship conflict and demise. Although relationship demise occurs for a multitude of reasons, psychologist John Gottman suggests that the manner in which couples respond to conflict is the principal cause of relationship failure. His theory known as the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” (of a relationship) targets four negative interactions that predict a failing relationship (Gottman, 1977). The first negative interaction is criticism: an attack on the character of the person rather than their behavior. The second is defensiveness: becoming agitated and disregarding the discussion (Gottman, 1977). The third is contempt: the expression of disrespect through derisive comments. The fourth is stonewalling: having total lack of response to the argument (Gottman, 1977). The “Four Horsemen” destroy consummate love and foreshadow relationship demise. Individuals that display healthy response behavior to conflict are predisposed to have longer lasting, healthy relationships and be more capable of detecting these behaviors. Every individual brings their own set of traits and skills to relationships. Amato and Booth (2001) state that most of these behaviors can be traced back to family origin. They suggest that “marital discord and satisfaction are transmitted across generation” (Amato & Booth, 2001). Their theory expresses that children with divorced parents will also be faced with divorce and dysfunctional relationship patterns and behaviors. Their theory is based on the observational-learning perspective, suggesting that poorly developed relationship skills and undermining interpersonal behavior can be associated with family origin (Amato & Booth, 2001). If these...
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