Marital quality and psychological adjustment to widowhood among older adults: A longitudinal analysis

Deborah Carr, James S. House, Ronald C. Kessler, Randolph Nesse, John Sonnega, Camille Wortman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

152 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives. This study examined whether psychological adjustment to widowhood is affected by three aspects of marital quality - warmth, conflict, and instrumental dependence - assessed prior to the loss. Methods. The Changing Lives of Older Couples (CLOC) is a prospective study of a two-stage area probability sample of 1,532 married individuals aged 65 and older. The CLOC includes baseline data on marital quality and mental health and data on grief, anxiety, and depression collected 6, 18, and 48 months after spousal loss. Results. Widowhood was associated with elevated anxiety among those who were highly dependent on their spouses and lower levels of anxiety among those who were not dependent on their spouses. Levels of yearning were lower for widowed persons whose relationships were conflicted at baseline and higher for those reporting high levels of marital closeness and dependence on their spouses. Women who relied on their husbands for instrumental support had significantly higher levels of yearning than men who depended on their wives. Discussion. The findings contradict the widespread belief that grief is more severe if the marriage was conflicted and suggest a more complex relationship between bereavement and characteristics of the marriage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume55
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2000
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Widowhood
Spouses
spouse
grief
anxiety
marriage
Grief
Anxiety
Marriage
husband
wife
Bereavement
Sampling Studies
mental health
human being
Mental Health
Emotional Adjustment
Prospective Studies
Depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Aging
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Marital quality and psychological adjustment to widowhood among older adults : A longitudinal analysis. / Carr, Deborah; House, James S.; Kessler, Ronald C.; Nesse, Randolph; Sonnega, John; Wortman, Camille.

In: Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, Vol. 55, No. 4, 07.2000.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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