The present research examines couples' conflict and social support processes within the context of common daily stressors, such as workday stress. Couples' communication in relation to depression, an important risk factor for marital distress, was also examined. Given that marital conflict and support occur within couples' ongoing interpersonal interactions, it is important to understand how stressors may precipitate conflict or support within couples' everyday lives. The majority of previous research examining factors theoretically related to the onset of marital distress has done so at a general level, rather than by collecting daily reports of couples' home lives. Daily diary methods may help explain how stressors translate into couples' conflict or support behaviors.
To assess naturally occurring social support and conflict interactions among couples, husbands and wives independently completed daily electronic questionnaires, using handheld computers, for four weeks. Recruitment targeted couples experiencing a wide range of depression symptomatology. Couples' behaviors in response to workday stressors and symptoms of wife depression provided a context in which to investigate how marital communication behaviors influence individual spouse's mood and couples' marital functioning. After controlling for participants' subjective levels of distress resulting from personal problems or workday stress, receiving support from one's spouse yielded positive outcomes for evening mood and appraisals of marital satisfaction. The effects of social support were not always positive, and disappointment with support and marital conflict appear to be risk factors for negative appraisals of evening mood and marital satisfaction. Couples engaged in withdrawal, and while some withdrawal was related to more negative evening mood, recuperative withdrawal in response to workday stress did not negatively impact appraisals of marital satisfaction. Notably, while couples' social support for personal problems was associated with more positive evening mood and higher daily marital satisfaction, disappointment with spousal social support and marital problems were associated with more negative evening mood and daily marital satisfaction. These findings are discussed in light of suggestions for appropriate coping strategies and skillful management of couples' supportive behaviors.
|School Location:||United States -- Indiana|
|Source:||DAI-B 69/09, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Social psychology, Clinical psychology|
|Keywords:||Couples, Daily diaries, Depression, Marital conflict, Marital satisfaction, Social support, Wife, Work stress|
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