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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of unemployment on the spousal relationship Johnson, Murray Stuart


A study was conducted to examine the effects of unemployment on the couple relationship, including each spouse's perception of self, other and the family environment during the period of unemployment. Fourteen couples were interviewed. Following the interview, the Dyadic Adjustment Scale(DAS), (Spanier, 1976) and the Family Environment Scale FES, (Moos & Moos, 1976) were administered. DAS results for the couples interviewed in this study suggest very little perceived difference in the marital relationship pre and post unemployment. As a group, the sample studied fell within the normal range of adjustment suggested by Spanier. Only two couples fell below one standard deviation of Spanier's mean for married couples. FES results for the couples interviewed were, on the whole, high in the areas of expressiveness, independence, achievement orientation, active-recreational orientation, moral-religious emphasis and conflict. These results suggest that, as a group, the couples interviewed were able to cope with higher than normal levels of conflict through a high level of cohesion and expressiveness along with an emphasis on personal growth. During the period of unemployment, changes in events or behavior that were self generated tended to have a positive effect on individuals. Changes which occurred outside of their control tended to have a negative effect on individuals and couples. Effective coping strategies clustered around increased involvement in parenting, attending support groups and personal growth workshops, relying on friends and exploring alternative, self-employment possibilities. The wives of the unemployed tended to cope with unemployment of their spouse by being supportive and encouraging. These results may help other individuals and couples find effective ways of coping with unemployment. These results may also aid counsellors in understanding how couples cope with unemployment and lead to more effective interventions for this population.

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