Treating the marital dyad as the unit of analysis, this study examined the within-couple patterning of 272 dual-earner spouses' provider role attitudes and their longitudinal associations with marital satisfaction, role overload, and the division of housework. Based on the congruence of husbands' and wives' provider role attitudes, couples were classified into one of four types: (a) main-secondary, (b) coprovider, (c) ambivalent coprovider, and (d) mismatched couples. Nearly half of all spouses differed in their attitudes about breadwinning. A series of mixed model ANCOVAs revealed significant between- and within-couple differences in human capital characteristics, spouses' perceptions of marital satisfaction and role overload, and the division of housework across 3 years of measurement. Coprovider couples reported higher levels of marital satisfaction and a more equitable division of housework than the other couple groups. Wives in the ambivalent coprovider couples' group reported higher levels of role overload than their husbands to a greater extent than was found in the other couple groups. As the first study to adopt a dyadic approach that considers the meanings that both spouses in dual-earner couples ascribe to paid employment, these findings advance understanding of how dual-earner spouses' provider role attitudes serve as contexts for marital quality, behavior, and role-related stress.
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