Intergenerational relationships and marriage in China: Within-family longitudinal associations and between-family differences

Xiaomin Li, Zhenqiang Zhao, Matthew Johnson, Xiaoyi Fang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Marriage is embedded in the web of spouses' broader social ties, and relationship quality with parents and parents-in-law is associated with marital quality. Guided by Family Systems theory and using three waves of dyadic data from 268 Chinese different-sex couples across the first several years of marriage, we first conducted a Random-Intercept Actor-Partner Interdependence Cross-lagged Panel Model (RI-APIM-CLPM) to examine the within-family longitudinal associations among husbands' and wives' relationship quality with parents, parents-in-law, and spouse. Then, husbands' and wives' filial obligations were added as predictors of between-family differences in their own and their partner's relationship quality in the three social ties. Among husbands, increased relationship quality in one social tie (e.g., with parents) predicted reductions in relationship quality in the other social ties (e.g., relationships with parents-in-law and marital quality). Our examination of between-family differences demonstrated that high levels of filial obligations predicted higher intergenerational relationship quality and marital quality. By simultaneously considering the within-family associations of multiple social ties and how filial obligations account for between-family differences in relationship quality, we contribute to a nuanced understanding of how Chinese couples' romantic partnerships are embedded in their broader family system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-521
Number of pages21
JournalPersonal Relationships
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • between-family differences
  • filial obligations
  • intergenerational relationship quality
  • marital quality
  • within-family longitudinal associations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Intergenerational relationships and marriage in China: Within-family longitudinal associations and between-family differences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this