Although marriage is usually considered to be socially integrative, some studies indicate that it can be privatizing, enclosing couples in isolated dyads. This study compared the availability of support, companionship, and negative relational experiences in various types of relationships for married men and women aged 40 to 85 years in the Netherlands and Germany. The Dutch demonstrated a more varied pattern of relationships beyond the nuclear family than the Germans but also reported worrying about a greater variety of people. In both countries, men relied more strongly on their partners, whereas women had more varied networks and experienced more worries. A continuum of social involvement can be drawn with German men, for whom marriage is privatizing, at one end and Dutch women, for whom marriage is highly socially integrating, at the other. Loneliness was related to the provisions of social relations, but no national and gender differences in predictors of loneliness were found.
- Social integration
- Social relations