An examination of the wives' attributions to their spouses' extra-marital affairs

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An examination of the wives' attributions to their spouses' extra-marital affairs


Author: Siu, Kin-heung
Title: An examination of the wives' attributions to their spouses' extra-marital affairs
Degree: M.A.
Year: 1996
Subject: Adultery -- China -- Hong Kong
Marriage -- China -- Hong Kong
Wives -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Studies
Pages: vi, 116, [7] leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: This dissertation is an exploratory study of marital infidelity in the local context, with the husband as the active partner. The interviewees are all the female non-participating partners since extra-marital affair (EMA) is certainly a serious critical life event for each wife. In fact, the impact of this infidel behaviour of the active partner (i.e. husband) on the non-participating partner (i.e., wife) may be so traumatic that family tragedies will occur. Thus, for the serious consequence faced by the wives especially when they encounter difficulties in coping with this crisis, this topic is certainly worthy to be studied. Moreover, in social work and psychological field, it is commonly agreed that the significance of attribution on the individual's coping in emotion and behaviour is established. The situation is reflected through one to two in-depth interviews with each of the six wives who have experienced infidelity problem in their marriages. Mainly, there are four domains of issues which have been discovered through the interviews. First, the interviewees attributed EMA of their spouses to various reasons. Initially, the interviewees would have no fixed attributions. Sometimes, they would tell reason A and then they regarded reason B as more sound. However, after a process of attributional activities, interviewees seemed to be more comfortable if they had several concrete reasons which they believed to be the causes of their husbands' extra-marital affairs (EMAs). Second, I identified four attributions which were salient. They were: (1) sexual needs of the husbands; (2) emotional needs of the husbands; (3) wives' responsibility (wives felt responsible for the causes of their husbands' EMAs); (4) husbands' personality. The first three attributions seemed to have salient importance at the early and middle stages while the fourth attribution was observed to be common at the later stage (The stages were defined by the interviewees' time concept). On the other hand, "circumstance and relationship attributions" were mentioned by the six interviewees all through the three stages perceived by themselves. Third, it was observed that, at the early stage, there was a great need for the interviewees to find causes of husbands' EMAs since they would like to make one or two justifications to the husbands' infidelity for reducing their psychological turbidness. At the middle stage, the interviewees would look at more dimensions in the EMA incidents. At the final stage, although interviewees still made assessments to their situation, they spent little energy and time to search for the cause of the EMA incidents. Therefore, in another words, when the interviewees have discovered the husbands' EMAs for a longer time, the attributions of husbands' EMAs will play a less important role. Fourth, it was found that interviewees' attributions varied from time to time even when they were describing the attributions in the same stage. After analysis, it was hypothesized that there were two types of attributions observed in the six interviewees. They were "rational" attribution and "irrational" attribution. Both of them were considered to have a close relationship with the interviewees' coping. All through the discussion, the "rational" and "irrational" attributions had been mentioned wherever appropriate and relevant. Of critical importance, apart from these issues, the influence of different attributions on interviewees' coping will also discussed in details in this paper. Finally, based on the findings, implications are drawn upon the practical level for social workers.

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