Associations Between Perceived Support in Older Adult Marriages and Dyadic Covariations in Momentary Affect and Aches

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Abstract

Objectives:

Spousal support within marriage may be particularly important in old age when spouses become more likely to rely on each other’s help. However, spousal support does not have to be unanimously positive. In fact, very little is known about covariations in spousal affect and aches as couples engage in their daily routines and environments.

Method:

Up to 27 simultaneous, momentary assessments from 49 older adult married couples (M age = 72 years [60–83]; M relationship duration = 42 years) were used taking into account the perspective of both partners.

Results:

This study shows that social support within marriage was associated with reduced overall levels of negative affect (NA) but unrelated to positive affect (PA). Interestingly, high spousal support was both associated with reduced overall NA means but also with an increased covariation in NA between partners. No similar covariations were observed for aches and PA.

Discussion:

Spousal support may be a double-edged sword; it is associated with reduced overall NA, but it may also lead to more permeable boundaries between spouses that seem to be specific to NA.

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