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J Fam Psychol. 2014 Feb;28(1):77-87. doi: 10.1037/a0035738.

Economic pressure, cultural adaptation stress, and marital quality among Mexican-origin couples.

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Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of North Carolina Greensboro.


Based on data from a sample of 120 first-generation Mexican immigrant couples collected at the start of the Great Recession in the United States, this study tested an actor-partner interdependence mediation model (APIMeM) in which spouses' perceptions of stress related to economic pressure and cultural adaptation were linked to their own and their partners' reports of marital satisfaction through spouses' depressive symptoms and marital negativity. As hypothesized, results supported indirect links between economic and cultural adaptation stressors and spouses' marital negativity and satisfaction: (1) contextual stress was associated with depressive symptoms, (2) depressive symptoms were positively associated with marital negativity for both husbands and wives and negatively associated with marital satisfaction for wives only, and (3) marital negativity was inversely associated with marital satisfaction for both spouses. Two partner effects emerged: (a) husbands' depressive symptoms were positively associated with wives' reports of marital negativity and (b) husbands' marital negativity was inversely related to wives' marital satisfaction. From these findings, we can infer that the psychological distress that arises for Mexican-origin spouses as they respond to the challenges of making ends meet during difficult economic times while they simultaneously navigate adapting to life in a new country is evidenced in their marital quality. Specifically, this study found that contextual stress external to the marital relationship was transmitted via spouses' psychological distress and negative marital exchanges to spouses' marital satisfaction. Wives' marital satisfaction was shown to be uniquely vulnerable to their own and their husbands' depressive symptoms and marital negativity.

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