Assignment Instructions Complete and upload to the appropriate assignment area by Sunday at 11:59 PM EST (Almost Midnight) of WEEK 2.

Assignment Instructions

Complete and upload to the appropriate assignment area by Sunday at 11:59 PM EST (Almost Midnight) of WEEK 2.
Write briefly in response to the following, using your text and one other reference (preferably from the APUS online library) and citing both in APA format. Your paper should be 1200 – 1500 words long, with no more than 50 words as direct quotes from a source.

Assignment 2:  Write two brief stories, or case studies, about couple making the transition to marriage, or a marriage-like arrangement.

In story #1, describe a couple who has struggled with, but successfully negotiated how they will handle their finances.

In story #2, describe couple who has failed to negotiate a way to manage household tasks.


Possible   grade

Student   grade


The   paper addresses the issues specified by the assignment



The   author shows insight and sophistication in thinking and writing



Two   academic citations were used



Paper   was well organized and easy to follow. Paper was the required length. Cover   page, paper body, citations and Reference list were in the American   Psychological Association format.



Few to   no spelling, grammar, punctuation or other writing structure errors







The Tasks of Early Adulthood



  • Transitioning from Adolescence to Adulthood
  • Defining Adulthood
  • Individualization
  • Challenges for Young Adults
  • Forming Relationships
  • Stage Theories
  • Relationship Development and Social Exchange Theory
  • Building A Relationship
  • Family of Origin and Mate Selection
  • Forms of Attachment
  • Developing the Marital System
  • Creating a Marital Household
  • Managing Conflict


All family systems move through stages as they experience the family life cycle. While the stages may be different for each type of family system (nuclear family, blended family, single parent family etc.), they go through stages nonetheless. The family experiences critical transitions and changes as family members develop and age and new strategies are needed to manage the tasks in the family. How the family handles these transitions and changes has a tremendous effect on family functioning. Over the course of the next few lessons, you will learn about how each of the developmental stages can impact a family. The first developmental stage that will be examined is the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

In this lesson, you’ll learn about the common steps involved in moving on from the family of origin, and the gradual progression from that stage to preparing to create a system and family of your own. This begins with a transition from adolescence to adulthood. This is a process of individuation that begins in early childhood and continues throughout life but is most important during this stage.

Young adults often begin searching for a partner or mate in early adulthood, with the goal of finding a lifetime companion. This lesson covers how people identify potential partners, what they look for when selecting a partner, and the factors that go into choosing a partner. In addition, you’ll learn about how relationships move from initial attraction to a committed relationship.

Finally, this lesson will discuss the steps taken by newly married couples, or any couple committed to a long-term, cohabiting relationship. These include forming a marital identity, defining boundaries, and negotiating household responsibilities. Couples must also learn how to effectively manage stress and conflict in their relationship. Topics covered include:

  • Transitioning from      adolescence to adulthood
  • Individuation for      young adults
  • Challenges common to      young adults
  • Selecting a mate
  • Building a      relationship
  • Developing a marital      system
  • Tasks of the newly      married couple

Transitioning From Adolescence to Adulthood

Young adulthood is a transitional period, and often a stressful or difficult one for both individuals and the family. During this stage of life, young adults typically transition out of the family home, develop a unique identity separate from the family, prepare for adult relationships, and navigate new relationships with parents and other family members.

Both the individual’s personal development and the dynamics and strategies used in the family impact the transition from adolescence to adulthood. This transition may occur differently depending on the individual, family or culture. Expectations, beliefs, and ideas surrounding transitioning from adolescence to adulthood may vary from family-to-family.

The family of origin is one factor in this transition. Other factors that can impact the transition from adolescence to adulthood include cultural norms, gender-role expectations, individual temperament, and community support (Anderson & Sabatelli, 2010, p. 93).

The transitional period between these two stages has increased significantly over time. The years between 18 and 29 are sometimes called emerging adulthood (Munsey, 2006). As the average age of marriage increases, many people spend more time in college, and more young people continue to live at home, the transitions to adulthood pose special challenges.

Common traits associated with these ages include:






Defining Adulthood

The transition from adolescence to adulthood is often defined in terms of dependence and independence. Dependence is associated with adolescence and greater independence with adulthood.

Here are two different situations, both involving a 22-year-old. In the first case, the young man is a college senior. He lives in the dorm during the school year and at home the rest of the time. His parents pay his tuition and most of his living expenses. In the second case, the 22-year-old opted for a two-year vocational training program after high school. He lives in his own apartment, pays all his own expenses, and has a serious relationship. He’s thinking of proposing marriage soon.

In the first case, the college student is clearly still quite dependent on his parents. He is very much still an adolescent. In the second case, the young adult is now financially and emotionally independent. He’s preparing to move onto a new phase of adult life.

This is a simplified example. In fact, adults typically exhibit independence, dependence, and interdependence in their relationships. However, for many young adults, independence is first defined as financial independence. Financial independence is often essential for developing other adult patterns of behavior, including forming healthy adult relationships and partnerships.

There are three different forms of autonomy. These can exist independently of one another, but all three are necessary for the transition to adulthood. Maintaining healthy, adult relationships with a significant other requires that one complete these steps to autonomy and independence.





Developing independence and moving from the role of a child or adolescent to that of an adult within the family and society requires individuation. Individuation is a developmental process in which the individual begins to view him or herself as a unique, separate and distinct part of larger systems, including the family and society (Anderson & Sabatelli, 2010, p. 93). This is an essential part of the transition to adulthood. However, it is also one that continues throughout life (Amsel, 2009). For most people, the individuation process begins during the teen years.

1/5 ›

· Individuation requires that the teen begins to take over tasks previously managed by the parental subsystem, including approval, self-esteem, self-definition and standards of conduct (Lapsley & Stey, 2010). Difficulties with the process of individuation may lead to challenging behaviors during adolescence. Some of these are normal and temporary, while others may be higher-order disturbances, including the development of borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder.

Challenges for Young Adults

Adolescence is a common time for difficulties. Young people may struggle with individuation and are typically experiencing additional stresses associated with identity, financial well-being, and life goals. While most teens and young adults complete this transition relatively successfully, there are some challenges that are most common during these years. These can continue into adulthood.




Substance use and substance dependence, or addiction, can be a problem during adolescence. Problems with substance use, including alcohol, marijuana and other drugs, are more likely for teens in disorganized neighborhoods with a high crime rate, teens who have poor school performance, and those experiencing bullying or negative peer pressure. Families experiencing significant conflict are more likely to have teens with substance abuse issues (Anderson & Sabatelli, 2010, p. 103).

In many cases, substance use or dependence is an ineffective solution to problems troubling the adolescent or young adult. He or she may be struggling in a high-conflict home and family, unhappy at school, or having difficulty due to the neighborhood. Drug and alcohol use provides a temporary remedy for those feelings and may provide the young person with the feeling of individuality and control over life.

Forming Relationships

Traditionally, one of the markers of adulthood was entering marriage. Today, that is less true than in the past. More adults choose not to marry and those who do marry, typically marry later. Nonetheless, for most people, finding a long-term romantic partner and developing an intimate relationship is a key task associated with young adulthood. While marhe task of finding and selecting a lifetime companion or partner is a challenging one. Different cultures have opted for varied means of matching up people. However, today in the U.S. and Western world, dating is the most common way to find a partner. As societies modernize, autonomous partner selection becomes increasingly important and arranged marriages less common (What-When-How, n.d.). Think of the dating process as trying out people for the eventual role of lifetime companion. Sometimes, it results in only a date or two, and it’s clear you’re not a match. Sometimes it results in a short relationship, and sometimes that relationship continues, paving the way for a long-term relationship, or even marriage.

Mate selection, of course, requires both parts of the couple to be interested, willing and able to join together in a partnership. This is not an individual process, but one that operates within the dyad, or couple.

There are two major types of theories as to how people choose a partner: stage theories of mate selection and social exchange theories of relationship development. These are not the only theories of mate selection, and both have some distinct weaknesses.

Stage Theories

Stage theories of mate selection assume a developmental sequence of relationship formation. Like other types of developmental stage theories, these stage theories assume that relatively similar stages are followed by all couples. There are a number of different stage theories of mate selection, each with their own definitions of the stages. However, they do share many of the same traits.

Robert Lewis (1973) has proposed six stages to the relationship development process. These are:

1/6 ›

  • Similarities

The initial attraction to a potential partner occurs because of recognized similarities.

While stage models can seem logical, not all relationships follow these stages, and some theorists suggest that men and women experience different stages of relationship development. Stage theories also do not consider the role of a family of origin experiences or analyze how commitment and intimacy develop in the relationship.

Relationship Development and Social Exchange Theory

Social exchange theories of relationship development offer a sort of economic look at relationships or an analysis of relationships in terms of costs and benefits. In the case of social exchange theory, individuals in relationships wish to maximize their own profits. That probably sounds decidedly unromantic, doesn’t it?

Relationships should be interdependent, in that both parties should care about the well-being and happiness of the other. In that case, profits can be related not to the individual necessarily, but to the couple. You might have heard the old saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” This applies to social exchange theories of relationships. In order for the relationship to thrive, the couple needs to be getting benefits from the relationship that exceeds the costs of the relationship.

Establishing a healthy interdependent relationship maximizes benefits for both individuals in the relationships. If that interdependence is not established, then one party may not experience benefits from the relationship, or both parties may feel the costs of the relationship are too great.



Exchange theories attempt to explain the attraction to a partner in terms of costs and rewards. Costs are the drawbacks associated with a relationship. These are the negative aspects of a relationship or rewards that may be sacrificed when you enter the relationship. Rewards are the benefits of the relationship, including pleasure, satisfactions, and gratifications.

Building a Relationship

Relationships must move beyond initial attraction. The initial attraction encourages two people to get to know one another and express interest in each other. Four different factors are required to move from initial attraction to a lasting relationship: trust, commitment, love, and interdependence.





Trust is the belief that one’s partner will not exploit or take advantage of him or her. Trust provides security and safety in the relationship and allows both members of the couple to think about the future. In addition, the trust provides a degree of emotional resilience. For instance, if you believe your partner thinks positively about your relationship, you may forgive minor irritations. When a relationship is based on trust, both parties can be less self-involved and spend more time looking out for one another. Without trust, each party looks more closely for their own interests and is less willing to commit to the relationship.

Family of Origin and Mate Selection

For many people, their experiences in their family of origin impact how they choose a mate and how they function in relationships. Family experiences impact relationships and mate choices in two different ways. First, the family of origin shapes and forms the CL or comparison level. Next, the family of origin impacts the ability of an individual to form healthy attachments.

In developing an image or CL, individuals look for what they have seen modeled or look to avoid what they have seen modeled. This can be conscious or subconscious, as people may form their CL thoughtfully, with an idea of what they want and need, or with very little thought. Families of origin have shaped the thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs people have about relationships.

Consider the following examples:


Forms of Attachment

The ability to develop healthy attachments occurs in early childhood. When a child does not form healthy attachments with parents, forming attachments with romantic partners becomes quite difficult. There are three different forms of attachment recognized by specialists in human development. These are all formed by the ways caregivers respond to infants and young children.

‹ 1/3 ›

  • Secure Attachment

Responsive, attentive and approachable caregivers promote secure attachment. Securely attached children feel safe exploring the world and have a healthy bond with parents and caregivers. As adults, they view relationships in a positive light and believe that relationships with others can be rewarding and successful.

Developing the Marital System

In order to understand marriage, we must first define it. For the purposes of study, marriage doesn’t refer to the legal institution, but to a “specific family subsystem comprised of adults from two different families of origin who have bonded together to form what they intend to be a stable and long-term cohabiting relationship” (Anderson & Sabatelli, 2010, p. 133). The intention is key here: the couple expects this to be a long-term relationship and they are choosing to commit to one another, with or without the benefit of a legal arrangement. This definition applies to both heterosexual and gay couples and can include couples who choose to marry legally, as well as those that do not.
Married couples form their own subsystem, either on their own or as part of a larger family. The marital subsystem is really a relationship subsystem, rather than one based on marriage. Committed, cohabiting couples have many of the same needs, issues, and challenges as married couples.
The marital subsystem consists of two people, committed to a romantic relationship with one another. Newly married couples have to form this new subsystem and create their own household and life together.




The tasks for the newly married couples, or newly committed and cohabiting couples, reflect those you’ve learned about in past lessons for families. Married couples must execute most of the same tasks as families, with the exception of parental tasks, unless the couple has children.

First, couples must execute identity tasks and begin to define themselves as a unit or a couple. For some young adults, this may require a clear separation from the family-of-origin identity. However, others may have more effectively individuated from the family. Even today, entering a long-term relationship is often the last clear marker of the transition to adulthood. When you marry or enter a comparable relationship, you’re expected to have figured out what you want out of life. When you enter a long-term committed relationship, you then need to define those goals in terms of both of you, not just one of you.

Couples need to, as part of their identity tasks, establish marital and family themes. These themes are consciously chosen and crafted. They may relate to social class, socioeconomic status, attitudes, values, and beliefs. Their own family of origin experiences plays a significant role in crafting family themes.

Creating a Marital Household

Developing strategies to manage the household can be one of the most challenging tasks for couples. These include negotiating household chores and finances. These two things trigger a great many marital conflicts, even in couples married for many years.




Several factors influence who does what in the home, including gender roles, areas of expertise, and allocation of resources. In many couples, women do more of the household tasks than men, even if they are working an equal amount. Women have been socialized to do these tasks and to accept responsibility for them. Areas of expertise or perceived ability may also direct household tasks to one partner or another, often along gender lines. Finally, women’s work, including employed work and women’s time, has often been devalued. Women’s time is, therefore, a less important resource and more likely to be used for household tasks. Conflicts over household tasks most often revolve around this sort of gendered disagreement. Men and women may disagree over the allocation of tasks.

Managing Conflict

Even the happiest couples are likely to experience some amount of conflict in their relationships. Learning to navigate and resolve conflict is essential for couples. Conflict resolution skills vary between couples. A close and loving relationship can typically manage conflict more effectively than one that is distant or already struggling.

Couples frequently manage conflict in the ways they have seen their families of origin manage conflict. This can be positive, with conversation, care, and compassion, or it can be quite negative, with yelling, name-calling or stonewalling. Four conflict-associated behaviors, called the Four Horsemen, are closely associated with significant relationship problems. These are:

  • Criticism or      attacking your partner as a person
  • Defensiveness or      defending yourself with a counter-attack
  • Contempt or mocking      a partner
  • Stonewalling or      refusing to discuss or engage with a partner

The presence of these conflict management strategies should be addressed quickly and corrected for the couple to succeed and learn to effectively manage conflict.


The first steps to forming a family and moving away from the family of origin occur during adolescence and the transition to adulthood. This is a slow and progressive transition, and for many people, includes seeking out a mate, and eventually, marriage.

In this lesson, you’ve learned about the factors that influence the transition to adulthood for young adults, as well as how people choose mates and move from the initial attraction phase to a committed relationship. You’ve also learned a little bit about navigating the early days of a long-term committed relationship like a marriage, and the tasks required for newly married couples.



0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.