Adaptation in new parent married couples : key processes and qualities of resilience

Olckers, Friedel (2016-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Couple resilience refers to the abilities and relational processes of a couple that enable them to endure, persevere, and negotiate adversarial circumstances. Most literature on the transition to parenthood tend to focus on negative factors of this normative stage. Scholars emphasise the distinct drop in marital satisfaction, individual well-being and relationship quality, postpartum depression as well as individual and joint losses (Bateman & Bharj, 2009; Cavanaugh, 2006). An important contribution to marital literature will be to establish which factors help couple relationships to excel and succeed. The primary objective of this qualitative study was to identify, explore and describe resilience qualities and processes of new-parent married couples associated with positive adaptation to the arrival of their firstborn. The secondary objective was to determine the resemblance in qualities and processes of resilience as identified among African and White couples. The theoretical foundation of the study resides in the Resiliency Model of Family Stress, Adjustment and Adaptation (McCubbin & McCubbin, 1996), the family life cycle perspective (Carter & McGoldrick, 2003) and the Key Family Processes as outlined by Walsh (2012). Twenty-two new-parent married couples (13 White and 9 African) living in Cape Town, South Africa took part in semi-structured interviews. The analysis generated 21 themes as foundation to their couple resilience. These 21 themes represent five categories, each structured according to the identified themes. Under couple factors eight themes emerged: communication, couple time, duration of relationship before childbirth, boundaries, shared hardships, healthy lifestyle, prioritisation of the couple relationship, and time for own and couple growth and fulfilment. Individual factors comprised four themes: spousal personalities, ‘me time’, background and upbringing, and physical attributes. Baby factors presented a single theme: characteristics of the child. Parenting factors entailed: the parenting unit, routine, involved father, planning and preparation, flexibility, and practical parenting style. External factors described two themes: social support and spirituality. Despite the inclusion of two cultural groups in this study, 19 common (typical) themes (qualities and processes) were identified that new-parent married couples may exhibit. The findings give additional insight into the transition to parenthood and couple resilience by recognising an interconnectedness among different themes. This research on positive adaptation, obtained useful information on how protective and recovery resources function in South African first-time parents. Thus, the present study contributes towards the body of knowledge on the resilience construct, whilst simultaneously generating knowledge relevant to the South African context. The findings have practical implications for preventative and therapeutic interventions, which focus on either new-parent married couples, or prospective parents.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Egpaar-veerkragtigheid verwys na ʼn egpaar se vermoëns en verhoudingsprosesse wat hulle help om ongunstige omstandighede te verduur en te hanteer en end-uit daarmee vol te hou. Die meerderheid literatuur oor die oorgang tot ouerskap is geneig om op negatiewe aspekte van hierdie normatiewe fase te fokus. Navorsers beklemtoon die afname in huweliksbevrediging, persoonlike welsyn en verhoudingsgehalte, postpartum-depressie en die verliese wat egpare individueel en saam ondervind (Bateman & Bharj, 2009; Cavanaugh, 2006). Dit sal ʼn belangrike bydrae tot huweliksliteratuur lewer indien faktore vasgestel kan word wat egpare help om uit te styg en in hulle verhoudings te slaag. Hierdie kwalitatiewe studie se primêre doelwit was om veerkragtigheidskwaliteite en -prosesse van getroude nuwe-ouer-egpare wat bydra tot positiewe aanpassing met die koms van hul eerste kind te identifiseer, ondersoek en beskryf. Die sekondêre doelwit was om vas te stel hoe die veerkragtigheidskwaliteite en prosesse ooreenstem vir swart en wit egpare. Die teoretiese grondslag vir hierdie studie is in die volgende raamwerke gevind: Resiliency Model of Family Stress, Adjustment and Adaptation (McCubbin & McCubbin, 1996), en die Gesin-Lewensiklus-Perspektief (Carter & McGoldrick, 2003) en die Key Family Processes soos beskryf deur Walsh (2012). Semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude is gevoer met 22 getroude nuwe-ouer-egpare (13 wit en 9 swart), wat in Kaapstad, Suid-Afrika woon. Op grond van die data-ontleding het vyf kategorieë met 21 temas na vore gekom wat grondliggend is aan die veerkragtigheid van hulle verhoudings. Onder pare-faktore het agt temas na vore gekom: kommunikasie, saamtyd as egpaar, duur van die verhouding voor kindergeboorte, grense, gedeelde ontberings, gesonde leefstyl, voorrang aan die egpaar se verhouding, en tyd vir persoonlike en egpaargroei en -vervulling. Individuele faktore bestaan uit vier temas: gade se persoonlikheid, ‘eie tyd’, agtergrond en opvoeding, asook fisieke eienskappe. Baba-faktore het slegs een tema: die kind se kenmerke. Ouerskapsfaktore behels ses temas: die ouerskapseenheid, roetine, betrokke-pa, beplanning en voorbereiding, buigbaarheid, en praktiese ouerskapstyl. Eksterne faktore bestaan uit twee temas: sosiale ondersteuning en spiritualiteit. Ten spyte van die feit dat twee kultuurgroepe in die studie betrek is, is daar 19 algemene (tipiese) temas (kenmerke en prosesse) by die deelnemende egpare aan hierdie studie gevind. Hierdie bevindings bied verdere insig in die oorgang na ouerskap en egpaar-veerkragtigheid deur die onderlinge verbondenheid en wisselwerking tussen die onderskeie temas te erken. Hierdie navorsing oor positiewe post-partum aanpassing bied nuttige kennis oor beskermings- en herstelfaktore van Suid-Afrikaanse egpare wat pas ouers geword het. Gevolglik dra hierdie studie by tot beskikbare kennis oor veerkragtigheid in die breë, terwyl dit terselfdertyd relevante kennis vir die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks bied. Die bevindinge het praktiese implikasies vir voorkomende en terapeutiese intervensies wat fokus op óf getroude egpare met ʼn eerste kind óf voornemende ouers.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100032
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