How Do Depressive Symptoms in Husbands and Wives Relate to the Interpersonal Dynamics of Marital Interactions?

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Abstract

We investigated how depressive symptoms in husbands and wives may affect patterns of interpersonal behavior during marital conflict discussions. Using the Continuous Assessment of Interpersonal Dynamics (CAID) approach, observers rated moment-to-moment levels of dominance and affiliation for each partner, from which dynamic indices were derived, including the slopes for each partner and the degree of rhythmic entrainment between partners. Results supported predictions that the wife’s depressive symptoms would be related to alterations in the dynamics of dominance, whereas the husband’s depressive symptoms would be related to alterations in the dynamics of affiliation. For example, the higher the husband’s depressive symptoms, the less affiliative both the wife and husband became over the interaction and the less entrained the partners were on affiliation. The results shed new light on gender differences in the impact of depressive symptoms on the management of marital disagreements.

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