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J Fam Psychol. 2003 Dec;17(4):557-70.

Depressive symptoms and marital satisfaction: within-subject associations and the moderating effects of gender and neuroticism.

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  • 1State University of New York at Stony Brook, Department of Psychology, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500, USA. joanne.davila@stonybrook.edu


Given the emphasis on within-subject associations between depression and marital quality in recent theory and practice, this study was undertaken with three goals: to examine within-subject associations between depressive symptoms and marital quality over time, to address gender differences in the magnitude and direction of these associations, and to determine whether neuroticism moderates the strength of these associations. A total of 164 newly wed couples provided 8 waves of data over 4 years of marriage. Hierarchical linear modeling confirmed the existence of bidirectional within-subject associations between marital satisfaction and depressive symptoms. Gender differences were rarely significant. Although neuroticism strengthened the effect of marital distress on symptoms as predicted, it weakened the effect of symptoms on marital distress among husbands. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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