Impact of Expectations, Experiences, Attributions, and Perceptions on Relationship Satisfaction Across the Transition to Parenthood
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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 completed mail-in packets during pregnancy (T1; n = 146 males, n = 151 females) and when their babies were 3-5 months (T2; n = 100 males, n = 108 females). Multi-level modeling accounted for non-independence of the dyadic data. Results indicate a significant decrease in relationship satisfaction. A significant interaction between expectations and experiences on T2 relationship satisfaction was found, such that the negative relationship between expectations and relationship satisfaction is worse when experiences are poorer. There was a significant positive relationship between perceptions and T2 relationship satisfaction. A significant interaction between expectations, experiences, and perception on T2 relationship satisfaction was found, indicating crossover effects. When one's high expectations are met with poorer experiences, positive perceptions somewhat buffer the detrimental impact on relationship satisfaction. Likewise, when one's low expectations are surpassed with positive experiences having a positive perception yields higher relationship satisfaction than having a more negative perception of the same circumstances. A significant positive relationship between benign attributions and T2 relationship satisfaction was also found. Clinical and research implications are discussed.