The Influence of Family and Friend Confidants on Marital Quality in Older Couples

Ruixue Zhaoyang, Lynn M. Martire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Relationships with confidants play an important role in older adults' health and well-being. Particularly, family and friend confidants could significantly support or interfere with older adults' marital relationships. This study used a dyadic approach to examine the influence of the structural features of both spouses' family and friend confidant networks on older couples' marital quality over 5 years. METHODS: Analyses used dyadic data from Wave 2 (2010-2011) and Wave 3 (2015-2016) interviews of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), a nationally representative sample of community-dwelling older adults. Longitudinal actor-partner interdependence models were used to examine the influence of spouses' family and friend confidant networks on couples' marital quality. RESULTS: Having a larger friend confidant network or closer connections with friend confidants predicted greater marital quality for wives and husbands 5 years later. Larger family confidant networks of both spouses predicted greater marital quality for wives over time. However, husbands reported worse marital quality over time if wives reported having closer connections with their own family confidants at baseline. DISCUSSION: This study demonstrates the importance of family and friend confidant networks for older couples' marital quality and highlights the benefits of having a larger or closer friend confidant network. Future research should examine mechanisms that account for the effects of spouses' family and friend confidant networks on older couples' marital quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-390
Number of pages11
JournalThe journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences
Volume76
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 18 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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