The Unique Romantic Relationships: Roles of Spouses and Partners in Core Networks

Ruijie Zhong , University of California, Berkeley
Claude S. Fischer, University of California, Berkeley

What do spouses and partners do in people's social life? Are spouses and partners unique, and if so, do they serve different roles compared to other relationship? This study uses the dataset from the University of California Berkeley Social Network Study and analyzes the multiplicities and role distributions underlying the social nature of the romantic relationships. The study finds that spouses and partners carry twice as many roles as friends, kin and other ties do. Spouses and partners actually share the roles of confidants, advisors and emergency reliance with friends and kin, and they are the major help provider for physical disabilities. As the chosen core network alters, spouses and partners are more likely to be pleasant ties rather than demanding ties. This study points to further discuss the value of romantic relationships in studying transitions into wedlocks and cohabitations.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity