Dirgha J. Ghimire

Impact of relationship factors on physical and psychological health and wellbeing

Research Project Description

This project will study the influence of courtship processes on marital quality and marital dissolution in a society just beginning a dramatic transition in marital relationship and behavior. This study will focus on two aspects of husband-wife relationship quality: (i) love and affection (ii) disagreement and criticism within marriage, and marital dissolution (separation and divorce). The setting, rural Nepal, is in the midst of transitions in both courtship process and relationship dynamics including marital dissolution. Research around the globe has demonstrated the important impact of the premarital courtship process, marital status and more importantly relationship quality on individual physical and psychological health and wellbeing. Yet little research investigates links between courtship process and marital quality and marital dissolution. Both theory and preliminary evidence point toward the importance of changes in multiple dimensions of courtship process as key links between individuals? community context, household background and characteristics, familial as well as non-family experiences, and marital quality and marital dissolution. Moreover, the scant research investigating the link is primarily focused on western settings with little or no variation in courtship process, as most courtships are limited to autonomous courtship systems. However, the specific mechanisms responsible for creating these links remain unknown. We build on an ongoing program of research that has already made numerous contributions to our understanding of the influence of various community-, household- and individual-level factors on both marital processes and marital quality and marital dissolution. We propose to investigate multiple courtship processes as mechanisms linking community-, household- and individual-level factors to marital quality and marital dissolution. To accomplish this we will integrate existing, culturally appropriate measures of multiple dimensions of courtship processes into models of marital quality and marital dissolution to conduct tests of these mechanisms. The data we propose to use contain a particularly rich body of contextual measures, detailed personal interviews with both husbands and wives, and a monthly record of marital status spanning 23 years. With this wealth of information from and about husbands and wives, we have the measures necessary to significantly advance the scientific understanding of the role of courtship processes in explaining the effects of community context, household and non-family experience on marital quality and marital dissolution. Given the autonomous courtship practice along with marital dissolution is rapidly increasing in non-western setting the insights we gain from this study are particularly significant because courtship processes may strongly affect marital quality and marital dissolution and ultimately influence both family and child health and wellbeing.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Funding Period: 6/1/2020 to 5/31/2022

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