Researchers have studied emerging adults' attitudes regarding the three components of the marital horizon theory, namely their desired age for marriage, the importance they place on marriage, and the criteria they endorse as necessary before being marriage ready. Up to this point, no studies have looked at parents' marital horizons nor have comparisons been made with their emerging adult children. The goal of this study was to determine parents' views regarding the three components of the marital horizon theory. Using hierarchal linear modeling, parents' responses were compared with their emerging adult children regarding ideal timing of marriage, marital importance, and criteria for marriage readiness. The participants for this study were 536 emerging adults, 360 fathers and 446 mothers. On average, parents' ideal age for marriage was later than emerging adults. Parents and emerging adults did not statistically differ regarding the sequencing of specific events (e.g., career, college) relative to marriage—they agreed that education or a career should come before marriage at this time of their life. However, emerging adults placed more importance on overall importance of marriage. Mothers consistently placed a greater premium on fulfilling certain criteria (e.g., interpersonal competence, role transitions, family capacities) when compared with fathers and emerging adults. Fathers placed more importance on these criteria compared to their emerging adult children, but were lower than mothers. Implications for clinicians are discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage and Family Therapy



Date Submitted


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Emerging adulthood, marital horizon theory, marriage preparation, marriage readiness, parents