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The role of chronic stress in the association between depressive symptoms and marital satisfaction

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
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In an 18-month longitudinal study of 200 newlywed couples, growth curve analyses indicated that marital satisfaction and chronic stress interact to predict depressive symptoms. When chronic stress decreased over time, the association between changes in marital satisfaction and depressive symptoms was relatively weak, but when chronic stress increased, the association between marital satisfaction and depressive symptoms was stronger and more negative. Cross-spouse analyses generally indicated that when spouses experienced increases in chronic stress or higher average chronic stress across time points, the bidirectional association between wives’ depressive symptoms and husbands’ marital satisfaction became weaker and less negative. In sum, increases in chronic stress over the first year of marriage strengthened the within-spouse association between marital satisfaction and depressive symptoms but weakened the bidirectional cross-spouse association between husbands’ marital satisfaction and wives’ depressive symptoms. This highlights how the broader social context may put maritally distressed spouses at greater risk for depression.
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