Premaritally Pregnant Couples’ Commitment-Trajectory Clusters and Relationship Progression in a Mostly Hispanic Sample
Premarital pregnancies have been associated with poor relationship outcomes for the couple. However, there is more to learn about specific relationship behaviors and perceptions in premaritally pregnant couples that might be associated with better functioning. The present study uses a sample of premaritally pregnant newlyweds (N = 50 couples) to investigate how courtship milestones (e.g., timing until first feeling in love with and first having sex with one’s partner) and courtship accelerations and downturns are associated with degree of similarity in partners’ trajectories of commitment to marriage. An initial iterative/K-means cluster analysis revealed three groups of couples in terms of partners’ similarity and differences in commitment trajectories. In one cluster, husbands’ and wives’ independent recollections of their commitment trajectories from before to after pregnancy discovery matched in both trend and absolute levels. In another cluster, husbands and wives both reported increasing commitment to marriage, but wives’ absolute levels were higher than their husbands’, and in a third cluster, spouses both reported increasing commitment to marriage, but husbands’ absolute levels were higher than their wives’. Based on prior literature suggesting that partners more in tune with each other’s beliefs and recollections generally fare better, the present hypotheses predicted that couples in which both partners had similar commitment trajectories would experience faster courtships than those in which partners were discrepant in absolute commitment levels and/or commitment trends. Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to compare clusters on continuous premarital measures, and chi-square tests were used to compare the clusters on categorical variables. Results showed that couples with similar commitment trajectories first felt love sooner (husbands) and first felt certain of marriage (husbands and wives) than those with dissimilar commitment trajectories. Overall, results indicate that clusters of commitment trajectories are associated with timing of courtship milestones in the context of a premarital pregnancy.