Transition to parenthood: The effect of division of labor discrepancies on marital satisfaction

Alison Paige Done, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


In a longitudinal study of couples during the transition to first time parenthood, I examined several hypotheses regarding expectations and the division of labor between spouses. Seventy couples expecting the birth of their first baby filled out questionnaires late in pregnancy and three months postpartum. Before the birth of their babies an experimental group participated in a marital skills training workshop. Results indicated that husbands' and wives' expectations about the post-birth division of labor differed significantly from actual post-birth division of labor. This discrepancy affected marital satisfaction for wives but not for their husbands. The discrepancy also affected spouses' satisfaction with the post-birth division of labor. There was no relationship between marital satisfaction and satisfaction with the post-birth division of labor. The marital skills training workshop was not effective in mediating satisfaction with post-birth division of labor.