Adult attachment, hostile conflict, and relationship adjustment among couples facing multiple sclerosis
Couples facing multiple sclerosis (MS) report significantly elevated rates of relationship distress, yet the effects of attachment have never been examined in this population. We examined whether hostile conflict mediated the dyadic effects of attachment on relationship adjustment in couples facing MS and whether these associations were moderated by gender or role. We also explored whether dyadic adjustment mediated the relationship between attachment and hostile conflict.Design.
The study was cross-sectional and included 103 couples in which one partner had been diagnosed with MS.Methods.
Participants completed the Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised, Dyadic Adjustment Scale, and Aversive Interactions Scale, as well as demographic variables. We used the actor–partner interdependence model for data analysis.Results.
There were significant actor and partner effects of greater anxious attachment and worse dyadic adjustment. Actor and partner effects of anxious attachment were significantly mediated by greater hostile conflict. Gender significantly moderated the effects between avoidant attachment and dyadic adjustment. The actor effect was significant for males and females; the partner effect was only significant for females. The actor effect for females but not males was significantly mediated by greater hostile conflict. Role was not a significant moderator. Exploratory analyses also showed that dyadic adjustment mediated the relationship between anxious and avoidant attachment and hostile conflict.Conclusions.
Findings highlight the important effects of attachment on relationship adjustment in MS couples. Both hostile conflict and dyadic adjustment appear to be mechanisms through which insecure attachment has a detrimental effect.