In recent years, policymakers at all levels of government have spoken about the importance of promoting healthy marriages. This political interest comes as no surprise because research has shown that couple relationships are central to family stability and child development. Furthermore, couple interventions can demonstrably improve child and family functioning.

This volume presents cutting-edge research and theory on couple relationships, with an emphasis on the implications for child development. It brings together developmental psychopathology experts, couple relationship researchers, and clinician-researchers who have developed innovative preventive couple interventions.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part demonstrates the influence of couple relationships on parenting processes and child development. The second part explores the determinants of couple functioning, relationship satisfaction, and relationship stability. The final part highlights innovative couples- or family-based interventions designed to promote strong couple relationships, stable families, and healthy child development. This final part also addresses the policy and clinical training implications of the intervention studies.

With its diversity of theoretical perspectives—including attachment, family systems, developmental, and social learning frameworks—this book will be an invaluable resource for clinicians, researchers, and family and health policy professionals.

Table of Contents


Series Foreword

Volume Foreword: Transitions
—David Reiss

Introduction: Feathering the Nest
—Marc S. Schulz, Patricia K. Kerig, Marsha Kline Pruett, and Ross D. Parke

  1. Tracing the Development of the Couples and Family Research Tradition: The Enduring Contributions of Philip and Carolyn Pape Cowan
    —Ross D. Parke, Marc S. Schulz, Marsha Kline Pruett, and Patricia K. Kerig

I. Implications of Couple Relationships for Parenting and Children's Development

  1. Identifying the Dynamic Processes Underlying Links Between Marital Conflict and Child Adjustment
    —E. Mark Cummings and Christine E. Merrilees
  2. Capturing Young Children's Perceptions of Marital Conflict
    —Jennifer C. Ablow and Jeffrey R. Measelle
  3. Ties That Bind: Triangulation, Boundary Dissolution, and the Effects of Interparental Conflict on Child Development
    —Patricia K. Kerig and Julie A. Swanson
  4. Shared Child-Rearing in Nuclear, Fragile, and Kinship Family Systems: Evolution, Dilemmas, and Promise of a Coparenting Framework
    —James P. McHale

II. Investigating Key Domains and Determinants of Couple Functioning

  1. Marital Satisfaction Across the Transition to Parenthood: Three Eras of Research
    —Erika Lawrence, Alexia D. Rothman, Rebecca J. Cobb, and Thomas N. Bradbury
  2. An Integrative and Developmental Perspective for Understanding Romantic Relationship Quality During the Transition to Parenthood
    —Holly Hatton, Rand D. Conger, Dannelle Larsen-Rife, and Lenna Ontai
  3. Capturing the Elusive: Studying Emotion Processes in Couple Relationships
    —Marc S. Schulz and Robert J. Waldinger
  4. Attachment Perspectives on Couple Functioning and Couples Interventions
    —Christopher Clulow

III. Promoting Healthy Couple and Family Relationships

  1. A New Couples Approach to Interventions for the Transition to Parenthood
    —John Gottman, Julie Gottman, and Alyson Shapiro
  2. Effectively Intervening With Divorcing Parents and Their Children: What Works and How It Works
    —Marsha Kline Pruett and Ryan Kerry Barker
  3. A Specialty Clinic Model for Clinical Science Training: Translating Couples Research Into Practice in the Berkeley Couples Clinic
    —Robert W. Levenson, Carolyn Pape Cowan, and Philip A. Cowan
  4. How Working With Couples Fosters Children's Development: From Prevention Science to Public Policy
    —Philip A. Cowan and Carolyn Pape Cowan

Coda: Looking to the Future
—Marc S. Schulz, Marsha Kline Pruett, Patricia K. Kerig, and Ross D. Parke


About the Editors

Editor Bios

Marc S. Schulz, PhD, is a professor of psychology and director of the Clinical Developmental Psychology Program at Bryn Mawr College. He directs the Bryn Mawr Emotion and Family Research Center, where he studies couple relationships, emotion processes, developmental psychopathology, and change across time in individuals and families.

He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Family Psychology® and an invited reviewer for a number of journals, including Child Development and the Journal of Marriage and the Family.

He is a senior investigator for the Study of Adult Development Project, a 60-year longitudinal study at Harvard University that is currently investigating the influence of close relationships and emotion regulation on social functioning and well-being in late life.

Dr. Schulz is working on a book on development and transitions in adolescence and early adulthood, and he consults widely on statistical and methodological issues and supervises the clinical training of doctoral students.

Marsha Kline Pruett, PhD, MSL, is the Maconda Brown O'Connor Professor at Smith College School for Social Work. Her current clinical work includes couples therapy; consultation regarding the decision to divorce, parenting plan development, and coparenting difficulties; consultation to attorneys; collaborative divorce; and mediation. She has written over 50 articles, chapters, and reviews; has edited two books; and is the coauthor of Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (2001). She is currently finishing a book on coparenting that will be published in 2009.

Her research on a model continuum of effective and cost-efficient coparenting services in the Connecticut courts, father involvement, and parenting plans for young children earned her the prestigious Association of Family and Conciliation Courts' Stanley Cohen Award for Distinguished Research. Another current project includes an evaluation of a Connecticut court-based intake screen being piloted as an early identification tool for couples with special needs (e.g., high conflict) and a method for channeling couples into a continuum of services, with the starting point of service aptly suited to individual needs based on information garnered from the screen.

She is currently part of an intervention and evaluation team that includes Drs. Philip and Carolyn Pape Cowan for the California Fatherhood Involvement Initiative, a program aimed at promoting father involvement and effective coparenting in family resource centers and state agencies to reduce incidence of child abuse and neglect.

In addition to academic writings, Dr. Pruett disseminates her work through speaking engagements and consultations across North America and abroad and has served as a commentator on numerous radio and television news shows.

Patricia K. Kerig, PhD, is a professor of psychology and the newly-appointed director of clinical training at the University of Utah. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, with a specialization in children and families. Her research honors include the Brodsky/Hare-Mustin Award from the American Psychological Association's Division 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) and the New Contribution Award from the International Society of the Study of Personal Relationships.

She is the coauthor, with Charles Wenar, of a textbook titled Developmental Psychopathology: From Infancy Through Adolescence (2005) and the editor of a number of published and forthcoming books on family observational research methods, couples research, parent–child boundary dissolution, adolescence and family processes, adolescent dating violence, and girls' delinquency. She is an editorial board member of the Journal of Family Psychology as well as an associate editor of the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma and has acted as guest editor for special issues of several journals.

In addition, she is active in empirical research regarding the family processes that contribute to or protect against the development of psychopathology, particularly interparental conflict, triangulation, and family violence. She also has an abiding interest in the study of resilience, believing that uncovering the protective factors that allow children to overcome the risks associated with family stress and trauma will help researchers to design interventions that are developmentally sensitive and effective in real-world settings.

Ross D. Parke, PhD, is distinguished professor of psychology emeritus and former director of the Center for Family Studies at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). His interests include fatherhood, the relation between families and peers, ethnic variation in families, and the impact of the new reproductive technologies on families.

He has served as editor of Developmental Psychology® and the Journal of Family Psychology and as associate editor of Child Development. He is past president of the American Psychological Association's Division 7 (Developmental Psychology) and of the Society for Research in Child Development. He was recently awarded the graduate student mentoring award from the graduate division of UCR and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution to Child Development award from the Society for Research in Child Development.

He is author of several books, including Fathers (1981) and Fatherhood (1996), and coauthor of Throwaway Dads: The Myths and Barriers That Keep Men From Being the Fathers They Want to Be (1999; with Armin Brott) and Child Psychology: A Contemporary Viewpoint (with E. Mavis Hetherington and Mary Gauvain), which appeared in its seventh edition in 2008.