Journal of African American Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 290–307 | Cite as

Marital Well-Being Over Time Among Black and White Americans: The First Seven Years

  • Edna BrownEmail author
  • Terri L. Orbuch
  • José A. Bauermeister
  • Brandyn-Dior McKinley


We examined patterns of marital well-being over the first 7 years of marriage and whether factors connected to early marital well-being during year 1 impacted marital well-being over time. Data were collected as part of a longitudinal panel study following 199 Black American and 174 White American during the first 7 years of marriage. Multilevel growth curve modeling revealed that race, income, and premarital child affected husbands’ marital well-being in year 1. Education, wives’ employment status, and divorced parents influenced wives’ marital well-being at year 1. After accounting for differences in these early marital conditions, having a child before marriage was significant in predicting the rates of change over time for husbands. Divorced parents affected the rate of change in marital well-being for wives. The findings suggest that as couples settle into their marriages, risk factors have fewer consequences on marital well-being.


Race Black Americans Gender Marriage Longitudinal research Marital well-being 



The research in this paper was supported in part by a grant from NICHD (HD40778) to the second author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edna Brown
    • 1
    Email author
  • Terri L. Orbuch
    • 2
    • 3
  • José A. Bauermeister
    • 4
  • Brandyn-Dior McKinley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health Behavior and Health EducationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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