The coping process and emotional reactions of non-participating spouses to their marital partners' extramarital affairs

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The coping process and emotional reactions of non-participating spouses to their marital partners' extramarital affairs

 

Author: Chan, Yuk-kuen
Title: The coping process and emotional reactions of non-participating spouses to their marital partners' extramarital affairs
Degree: M.A.
Year: 1997
Subject: Adultery -- China -- Hong Kong
Husband and wife
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Studies
Pages: iii, 84 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1403365
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/2331
Abstract: In Hong Kong, the increasing number of extramarital affairs has received growing concern in the public these years. Most of the non-participating spouses experience a state of emotional turmoil and disequilibrium when they learn about their partners' affairs. Therefore, it is worthwhile to understand the coping process of the non-participating spouses that is specific in reacting to extramarital crisis as well as their emotional reactions to their spouses' affairs. Qualitative case study was employed as research strategy in this study. In-depth interviews with informants were used to collect retrospective data. Ultimately, six women were selected to participate in the study. The coping process started with the cognitive appraisal about what were at stake and what the coping options were that shaped the coping strategies used by the non-participating spouses. Such cognitive appraisal was influenced jointly by the actual situational context and by the antecedent person characteristics. The findings revealed that the non-participating spouses appraised their partners' affairs endangering the marital relationship and harm to their well-being. As regard to the choice of coping option, some non-participating spouses sought to terminate the marriage whereas others tolerated a triangular relationship. The extent of loss and harm experienced by a non-participating spouse after the revelation of an affair and her choice of coping options to deal with the strained marital relationship were affected by both person factors and situation factors. The person factors included the non-participating spouse's commitment to the marriage, her belief about personal control to restore the monogamous relationship, her habituation to her spouse's affair and her consciousness of shame. The situation factors included the marital partner's commitment to the marriage, the nature of extramarital involvement and the children welfare that interwined with financial concern. The coping strategies that the non-participating spouse used were influenced by cognitive appraisal. The findings showed that the non-participating spouse utilized problem-focused coping, emotional-focused coping or social support to deal with the strained marital relationship, the demaged self and the marital breakup. The emotional reactions of the non-participating spouse to a partner's affair were also influenced by cognitive appraisal. They were similar to grief reactions to loss.

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