However, it is hypothesized that socioeconomic vulnerability may constitute a risk factor for the development of families and couples, and may eventually weaken them.
Thus, in view of the indications that the context influences the interactions of family members, highlighting among them the interactions of spouses, the study of the relationships between conjugality and sociodemographic variables is relevant. This occurs, first of all, as it contributes to the process of producing useful knowledge for the elaboration of intervention strategies with couples, considering that the quality of the marital relationship is a factor of protection for individual and family development: people who they establish satisfactory marital interactions are more long-lived, physically healthy and perform their parenting functions more adequately (Rauer, Karney, & Gavan, 2008). Second, it brings greater visibility to the phenomenon, allowing to expand the knowledge regarding the way these relationships influence the developmental trajectories of individuals, couples and families. Third, given the particularities of contemporary marriage, which make it different from the traditional model and impact the dynamics of the couple relationship, the need for further studies on the theme is evident, especially considering specificities of the Brazilian context (Heckler & Mosmann , 2014), since the designs of conjugal unions have been changing over the years (Scorsolini-Comin & Santos, 2011b).
Thus, the aim of the present study is to describe the relationship between marital relationship and sociodemographic characteristics in hetero-affective family arrangements. Specifically, it is intended to compare and correlate characteristics of the marital relationship (namely marital harmony, negative reciprocity and avoidance) with sociodemographic characteristics (notably schooling, income, number of people living in the family home, age of the spouses and time of marital union ). Given the results obtained in international studies on the subject (Birditt et al., 2010; Conger et al., 2010; Dakin & Wampler, 2008; Wendorf et al., 2011), the expectation is that nationally the characteristics of the marital relationship also vary according to sociodemographic characteristics.
The study was carried out with 104 hetero-affective couples living in four cities in a state in the south of Brazil, making a total of 208 participants. We included couples whose union took place in a formal (through civil and / or religious marriage) or informal way (through what is legally called in Brazil as “stable union”), and who had at least one child (the ), biological or not, in pre-school age. To be included in the sample, couples should be living together, that is, living in the same household, for a minimum period of six months.
The average age of women was 33 years old (SD = 6.28) and men 36 years old (SD = 7.38). The average time of conjugal union was 10 years (SD = 5.45). The majority of participating couples (85.6%) constituted an original or intact family, that is, a nuclear family composed of biological parents of all children. In the majority of the participants (95.1%), it was identified that the spouses and child (s) lived in the family home exclusively, that is, with the absence of other adult relatives or households (extended family).
a) Sociodemographic Questionnaire: composed of 15 questions concerning variables such as family composition, number of people living in the household, housing characteristics, presence of an employee hired to assist in the care of the home and the child (ren) (employee) household or nanny, for example), as well as age, education, profession, working hours and monthly income of family members.