Spouses’ Perceptions of Network Interference in the Early Years of Marriage


  • Pamela B. Trotter
  • Terri L. Orbuch
  • M. Rosie Shrout


In early marriage, couples are intricately tied to their social networks and are influenced by important connections, social interactions, and socialization processes within those networks. Most of the research on the links between social networks and marital processes has focused on the positive effects or support married couples receive from their friends and family. The present study examined the links between perceptions of interference from family and friends and newlyweds’ reports of marital well-being in the early years of marriage. The contexts of both gender and race were explored to gain a better understanding of how interference from family and friends might be linked to marital well-being. Data from Black American and White American couples in their early years of marriage were analyzed. The findings revealed that perceptions of interference from friends were negatively associated with marital well-being for both Black American and White American wives. Husbands’ perceptions of interference from their wives’ friends were negatively linked to marital well-being, but only for Black American husbands. We offer several explanations for the differential links between perceptions of interference and marital well-being, including the role of relationships in self-identity and the negative spillover effect of external stressors.