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Ann Behav Med. 2019 Nov 9;53(12):1069-1080. doi: 10.1093/abm/kaz017.

Ambivalence in the Early Years of Marriage: Impact on Ambulatory Blood Pressure and Relationship Processes.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.
2
Romney Institute of Public Management, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.
3
College of Dental Medicine, Roseman University of Health Sciences.
4
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Operations, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.
5
Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Marriage is associated with lower cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, but quality matters. Marriages characterized by ambivalent behaviors (containing both highly positive and highly negative behaviors concurrently) may not confer the same cardiovascular benefits as characterized by purely positive behavior. Ambivalence is assumed to take time to develop but couples in the early years of marriage may already exhibit ambivalent behaviors and thus be at increased risk for future cardiovascular events.

PURPOSE:

The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency of spouse and own ambivalent behavior, the impact on interpersonal (i.e., responsiveness, disclosure, affective interactions) processes, and ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) in individuals in the early years of marriage.

METHODS:

In 84 young married couples, objective and subjective ambivalence, interpersonal functioning, and ABP over a 24-hr period were assessed.

RESULTS:

As predicted, ambivalence developed early in marriage. Regarding interpersonal processes, spousal and own objective ambivalent behavior was associated with lower spousal responsiveness (p < .01), disclosure (p < .05), and more negative (p < .03) and less positive interactions (p < .001). Physiologically, ambivalent spousal behavior was associated with higher systolic blood pressure (p = .02) and higher diastolic blood pressure (p = .04). Measures of subjective ambivalence were congruent.

CONCLUSIONS:

Early marriages already contain ambivalent behavior; in such cases, individuals may not receive the cardiovascular protection of a supportive marriage.

KEYWORDS:

Ambivalent; Blood pressure; Marriage; Partner responsiveness; Relationships

PMID:
31009529
DOI:
10.1093/abm/kaz017

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