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The negative early-experiences findings of the Chichester study led to a focusing upon the marriage data that had been collected in that study. Two lines of enquiry became possible: examining the association between quality of marriage and mental illness (Birtchnell & Kennard, 1983a and b) and examining the links between early experiences and aspects of marriage (Birtchnell & Kennard, 1982 and 1984). The first of these proved particularly fruitful and demonstrated a highly significant association. Whilst it seemed most likely that it was the poor marriage that led to the psychiatric symptoms, clearly the psychiatric symptoms would also play a part in the deterioration of the marriage (Birtchnell, 1986). One important finding (Birtchnell & Kennard, 1982) was that the mental health of women who had left poor marriages was significantly better than that of women who stayed in them.

I began to direct my attention to methods of measuring marital quality and to the development of a measure of my own. I enlisted the help of the Marriage Guidance Council, now called Relate, to test the validity of the measure (Birtchnell, 1985, 1988). I also began to speculate about the causes of marital breakdown in terms of my developing theory (Birtchnell, 1986).

 

References

Birtchnell, J. (1985) The relationship between scores on Ryle's Marital Patterns Test and independent ratings of marital quality. British Journal of Psychiatry, 146, 638‑644.

Birtchnell, J. (1986) Psychiatric disorders in marriage. British Journal of Hospital Medicine, June, 409‑412.

Birtchnell, J. (1986) The imperfect attainment of intimacy: A key concept in marital therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 8, 153‑172.

Birtchnell, J. (1986) Reply to John Carpenter's comment. Journal of Family Therapy, 8, 179‑182.

Birtchnell, J. (1988) The assessment of the marital relationship by questionnaire. Sexual and Marital Therapy, 3, 57‑70

Birtchnell, J. & Kennard, J. (1982) Some marital and child rearing characteristics of early mother‑bereaved women. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 55, 177‑186.

Birtchnell, J. & Kennard, J. (1983a) Marriage and mental illness. British Journal of Psychiatry, 142, 193‑198.

Birtchnell, J. & Kennard, J. (1983b) Does marital maladjustment lead to mental illness? Social Psychiatry, 18, 79‑88

Birtchnell, J. & Kennard, J. (1984) Early and current factors associated with poor quality marriage. Social Psychiatry, 19, 31‑40.