The effects of perceived mental/emotional problems (psychopathology) in the family-of-origin on adult offspring marital satisfaction was tested in a model considering the mediating variables of parental marital satisfaction, mother-child relationship quality, father-child relationship quality, and resolution of issues from the family-of-origin. The nationally representative sample (n = 802) drawn from the RELATionship Evaluation (RELATE) database included mostly college educated, lower-middle-class individuals in their first marriage. This sample was used to test a structural equation model that results showed fit the data well. Results showed that historical (distal) factors (such as psychopathology in the family-of-origin) explain only a small portion of the variance in adult offspring marital satisfaction and suggest that more contemporary (proximal) factors (such as individual characteristics) have a stronger relationship to adult offspring marital satisfaction. Results showed that 56% of the variance in achieving resolution of issues from the family-of-origin was explained by the other variables in the model with the best predictor being parental marital satisfaction. Direct, indirect, and total effects of each of the independent variables were examined. Results showed no direct effect of perceived mental/emotional problems (psychopathology) in the family-of-origin on adult offspring marital satisfaction. Only the mother-child relationship quality had a direct effect on adult offspring marital satisfaction. Clinical implications for practitioners are discussed. This study helps practitioners know how to help a client find resolution to issues stemming from perceived family-of-origin mental/emotional problems. This study also shows that focusing on current interpersonal processes and skills that may be part of achieving resolution is more likely to help a couple with marital problems than focusing on negative effects from the family-of-origin. Future research should focus on exploring the applicability of this model to different variables such as gender, race, income levels, etc. Future research models should also incorporate both historical and contemporary factors to help determine the direct effects of these variables on adult offspring relationship satisfaction.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





Family-of-Origin, Adult Offspring, Martial Satisfaction, Psychopathology, Resolution of Issues, Coming to Terms, Mother-Child Relationship, Father-Child Relationship, Parental Marital Satisfaction, Family Systems, Proximal Factors, Distal Factors, Mental Problems, Emotional Problems, RELATE, RELATionship Evaluation