Impact of Expectation Violation on Relationship Satisfaction Across the Transition to Parenthood

Danielle M. Mitnick, Richard E. Heyman, Amy M.Smith Slep, Jill Giresi, Jacqueline E. Shanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examined whether violations of partner expectations—and attributions and perceptions of these violations—are associated with relationship satisfaction across the transition to parenthood. First-time parents (N = 99) mixed-sex couples completed mail-in packets during pregnancy (Time 1; T1) and when their babies were 3–5 months old (Time 2; T2). Hypotheses were largely confirmed. Multilevel modeling results indicated a significant T1-to-T2 decrease in relationship satisfaction. Expectation violations significantly predicted change in satisfaction; undermet expectations are associated with decreased satisfaction. T2 perception of expectation confirmation predicted change in satisfaction at T2 and moderated the relationship between expectation violation and relationship satisfaction. Likewise, benign postnatal attributions were significantly associated with the change in satisfaction at T2 and moderated the relationship between expectation violation and relationship satisfaction. Clinical and research implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-245
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Attributions
  • Expectations
  • Prenatal expectations
  • Relationship satisfaction
  • Transition to parenthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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