Send to

Choose Destination
J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2008 Nov;69(6):941-50.

Relationship functioning among adult children of alcoholics.

Author information

Research Institute on Addictions, The State University of New York at Buffalo, 1021 Main Street, Buffalo, New York 14203-1016, USA.



The purpose of the current research was to examine the impact of both maternal and paternal alcoholism on the relationship functioning of husbands and wives over the early years of marriage.


Couples (N = 634) were assessed at the time of marriage, and again at their first, second, and fourth anniversaries. Husbands and wives completed separate, self-administered questionnaires at home.


Results of separate repeated measures analyses of covariance revealed that, for both husbands and wives, the appraisal of their marital relationship was associated with alcoholism in the opposite gender parent. That is, for husbands, alcoholism in the mother was associated with lower marital satisfaction across the 4 years of marriage. For wives, alcoholism in the father was related to lower marital intimacy. Husbands' physical aggression was influenced by mother's and father's alcoholism; high levels of physical aggression were present among men with alcoholic mothers and nonalcoholic fathers. Interestingly, wives' experience of husband's aggression was also highest among women with alcoholic mothers and nonalcoholic fathers. Wives also reported engaging in high levels of physical aggression when they had an alcoholic mother and a nonalcoholic father, but this effect was restricted to the early part of the marriage. Finally, parental alcoholism was associated with both husbands' and wives' attachment representations.


The present findings suggest that children raised in alcoholic families may carry the problematic effects of their early family environment into their adult romantic relationships.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Dartmouth Journal Services Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center