Adult attachment and the perceived cost of housework and child care
Abstract Objective: This study examined the link between new mothers’ attachment orientation and the perceived cost of sole responsibility in housework and child care. Background: The transition to motherhood can be very stressful, and according to the Vulnerability Stress Adaptation Model (VSA model), the way it affects the couple relationship is likely to depend on interacting factors from different domains of risk (e.g. individual and couple level). We expected interactions to appear between domains of attachment and labour division. The hypothesis was that sole responsibility in child care and housework would predict lower relationship satisfaction, particularly among mothers who were high on attachment insecurity. Methods: Data from self-report measures of adult attachment, child care, housework and relationship satisfaction were collected from 255 first-time mothers at six months postpartum. Results: Sole responsibility in child care predicted lower relationship satisfaction, particularly among mothers who were high on attachment avoidance. This interaction effect was significant but small. Among main effects, higher levels of either attachment anxiety or avoidance were linked with lower relationship satisfaction and lower levels of sole responsibility in childcare was linked with higher relationship satisfaction. Conclusion: These findings provide new data on the how risk factors from separate domains combine, and implications are discussed in terms of applying the VSA model when developing preventive interventions for new mothers.