Volume 49 - Article 39 | Pages 1087–1116  

Marital plans and partnership transitions among German opposite-sex couples: Couple agreement and gender differences

By Dominika Perdoch Sladká


Background: Research shows that marital plans influence marital behavior. However, romantic partners may differ in their marital plans, and these differences can affect relationship outcomes.

Objective: The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between agreement in short-term marital plans and partnership transitions in German opposite-sex couples and to find whether there is a gender difference in the relationship between marital plans and the risk of marriage or dissolution.

Methods: The couple-level data from the German Family Panel (pairfam) were analyzed with competing-risks regression. The sample consisted of 1,834 couples.

Results: Marital plans were strongly associated with the subsequent transition to marriage; marital plans were not associated with dissolution when controlling for relationship and partner characteristics. The gender of the partner with marital plans was not associated with the probability of marriage or dissolution.

Conclusions: Contrary to expectations, there were no gender differences in the relationship between marital plans and partnership transitions. Despite the important role of marriage in Germany, disagreements in marital plans did not increase the risk of dissolution. However, agreement in marital plans plays an important role in subsequent marriage. The transition to marriage is also strongly influenced by relationship characteristics and life course factors.

Contribution: This research emphasizes the importance of using couple data in studying the marital intention–outcome link. Using recent data from a long panel study, the findings contrast with previous research on the gendered effect of marital plans in the United States.

Author's Affiliation

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