The family process of divorce



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Texas Tech University


The purpose of the study was to examine family stress variables which had previously received little attention in the divorce adjustment literature: pile-up of stressors, role flexibility, family rules permitting emotional expression, and illness anxiety. A second purpose of this study was to examine these variables from a family stress theoretical perspective.

The findings of this study were based upon recently divorced and separated individuals selected from court records in Potter, Randall, and Lubbock counties of the Texas Panhandle. The sample consisted of 90 respondents, 27 males and 63 females. Subjects completed the following questionnaires: the Family Inventory of Life Events and Changes, to determine the number of pile-up of stressors; the Family Adaptation to Medical Stressors, to determine the degree of role flexibility, the number of family rules prohibiting emotional expression, and the amount of illness anxiety; and the Fisher Divorce Adjustment Scale, to determine the level of divorce adjustment.

Hierarchical multiple regression was used to test the hypotheses. The findings supported the hypotheses that the number of pile-up of stressors and the amount of illness anxiety contributed significantly to the explanation of divorce adjustment for the male respondents. An unexpected finding in this study was that, for men, family rules prohibiting emotional expression were directly related to divorce adjustment. However, none of the variables in the study were significantly related to divorce adjustment for the female respondents.