Publications by authors named "Howard J Markman"

68 Publications

Having a Baby: Impact on Married and Cohabiting Parents' Relationships.

Fam Process 2021 06 18;60(2):477-492. Epub 2020 Jul 18.

Department of Psychology, The University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA.

The current study evaluates the effects of having a baby on relationship quality and stability, contrasting married and unmarried cohabiting parents (N = 179; 38% unmarried cohabiting). Participants provided several waves of data, including time points before, during, and after pregnancy. Results indicated that cohabiting parents broke up at a significantly higher rate after having a baby compared to married parents. In terms of relationship quality, interrupted time-series analyses indicated that negative communication significantly increased after baby regardless of marital status. In addition, married parents had significantly higher levels of relationship satisfaction and commitment before baby compared to cohabiting parents but experienced modest declines in relationship satisfaction after baby. Cohabiting parents did not show such declines but remained lower in satisfaction throughout the study. Gender moderated commitment trajectories, such that married and cohabiting women demonstrated decreased commitment after baby, but married and cohabiting men demonstrated no significant changes in commitment. This study adds to the literature by examining both relationship stability and relationship quality trajectories from before pregnancy to after the birth of a baby among married and cohabiting parents in the same sample. Implications of these findings for practice and future research are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12567DOI Listing
June 2021

Helping Couples in the Shadow of COVID-19.

Fam Process 2020 Sep 10;59(3):937-955. Epub 2020 Jul 10.

University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA.

The pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus (coronavirus) and the associated illness, COVID-19, has caused a level of worldwide upheaval unlike any most people now living have seen in their lifetimes. This crisis affects people in their most important, committed, and intimate relationships. Although this crisis has damaged the health and well-being of individuals, crushed economies, and led to an extensive period of uncertainty about the future, there may also be positive outcomes in the motivation people have to protect their relationships. In this paper, we focus on strategies that therapists and relationship educators can use to help couples preserve and protect their relationships during such a time. We describe four foundations of safety that allow relationships to thrive: physical, emotional, commitment, and community. We then highlight three keys from our body of work that can help guide individuals and couples in protecting their relationships on a day-to-day and moment-to-moment basis: (1) decide, don't slide; (2) make it safe to connect; (3) do your part.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12575DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7361298PMC
September 2020

Everything Here is Fine: Protective Buffering by Military Spouses During a Deployment.

Fam Process 2020 09 28;59(3):1261-1274. Epub 2019 Jun 28.

University of Denver, Denver, CO.

To minimize potential distractions for deployed military service members (SMs), some nondeployed romantic partners have reported engaging in protective buffering, or intentionally withholding information or concerns to protect their deployed partner. This study assessed the associations of protective buffering and psychological distress and marital satisfaction for military couples during and after deployment. Additionally, the study explored whether protective buffering was related to SM reports of being distracted during deployment by family matters. A total of 54 couples provided data before, during, and after an Army deployment. In multilevel models, higher protective buffering by partners was associated with higher psychological distress and lower marital satisfaction for both SMs and partners during, but not after, deployment. Additionally, partners reported frequent use of protective buffering during deployment; however, protective buffering was not significantly correlated with family related distraction for SMs during deployment. Limitations and implications of these findings are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12457DOI Listing
September 2020

Protective Buffering by Service Members During Military Deployments: Associations with Psychological Distress and Relationship Functioning.

Fam Process 2020 06 7;59(2):525-536. Epub 2019 Jan 7.

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO.

To shield a romantic partner from potential distress due to stressors occurring during deployment, service members (SMs) may engage in protective buffering, or withholding information or concerns from a romantic partner. This study utilized data from 54 couples collected before, during, and after a military deployment to assess whether SMs engaged in protective buffering while deployed and the possible associations between buffering and psychological, relationship, and contextual factors. Only 2% of SMs indicated never engaging in protective buffering during a deployment. In bivariate analyses, only partners' psychological distress prior to deployment was significantly associated (negatively) with protective buffering. In multilevel models with time nested within individuals, and individuals nested within couples, higher buffering was associated with less partner distress during deployment, but was also associated with higher SM distress both during and after deployment. In these multilevel models, protective buffering was not significantly associated with SM or partner marital satisfaction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12426DOI Listing
June 2020

Treatment-as-Usual for Couples: Trajectories Before and After Beginning Couple Therapy.

Fam Process 2019 06 10;58(2):273-286. Epub 2018 Oct 10.

University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO.

Couple therapy has been shown to be a meaningful way to improve couples' relationships. However, less information is known about couples' functioning prior to entering treatment in community settings, as well as how their relationship functioning changes from initiating therapy onward. This study examined 87 couples who began community-based couple therapy during a longitudinal study of couples in the military. The couples were assessed six times over the course of 3 years, including time points before and after starting couple therapy. Using an interrupted-time series design, we examined trajectories across the start of couple therapy in relationship satisfaction, divorce proneness, and negative communication. The results demonstrated that couples' relationship satisfaction was declining and both divorce proneness and negative communication were increasing prior to entering couple therapy. After starting couple therapy, couples' functioning on all three variables leveled off but did not show further change, but previous experience in relationship education moderated these effects. Specifically, those who were assigned to the relationship education program (vs. control) demonstrated greater reductions in divorce proneness and greater increases marital satisfaction after starting therapy; however, they also started more distressed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12390DOI Listing
June 2019

Unequally into "Us": Characteristics of Individuals in Asymmetrically Committed Relationships.

Fam Process 2019 03 7;58(1):214-231. Epub 2018 Oct 7.

Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.

This study examined characteristics of individuals that are associated with being in asymmetrically committed relationships (ACRs), defined as romantic relationships in which there was a substantial difference in the commitment levels of the partners. These ACRs were studied in a national sample of unmarried, opposite-sex romantic relationships (N = 315 couples). Perceiving oneself as having more potential alternative partners was associated with increased odds of being the less committed partner in an ACR compared to not being in an ACR, as was being more attachment avoidant, having more prior relationship partners, and having a history of extradyadic sex during the present relationship. Additionally, having parents who never married was associated with being the less committed partner in an ACR but parental divorce was not. Although fewer characteristics were associated with being the more committed partner within an ACR, more attachment anxiety was associated with increased odds of being in such a position compared to not being in an ACR. We also address how some findings change when controlling for commitment levels. Overall, the findings advance understanding of commitment in romantic relationships, particularly when there are substantial asymmetries involved. Implications for both research on asymmetrical commitment as well as practice (e.g., therapy or relationship education) are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12397DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6408959PMC
March 2019

Associations of Army Fathers' PTSD Symptoms and Child Functioning: Within- and Between-Family Effects.

Fam Process 2018 12 25;57(4):915-926. Epub 2018 Mar 25.

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO.

This study examined the within-family and between-family associations between fathers' military-related PTSD symptoms and parent ratings of children's behavioral and emotional problems. The sample included married couples (N = 419) with children composed of a civilian wife and an active-duty husband serving in the U.S. Army. Results indicate that changes in fathers' PTSD symptoms over time were associated with corresponding changes in both mothers' and fathers' reports of child behavioral and emotional problems. These within-family findings were independent from between-family effects, which showed that higher average PTSD symptomatology was associated with more overall behavioral and emotional problems for children. This study uses advances in statistical methodologies to increase knowledge about how PTSD symptoms and child problems are related, both across different families and over time within families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12358DOI Listing
December 2018

Something to talk about: Topics of conversation between romantic partners during military deployments.

J Fam Psychol 2018 02;32(1):22-30

Department of Psychology, University of Denver.

Long-distance communication has been frequently identified as essential to military couples trying to maintain their relationship during a deployment. Little quantitative research, however, has assessed the types of topics discussed during such communication and how those topics relate to overall relationship satisfaction. The current study draws on a sample of 56 Army couples who provided data through online surveys while the service member was actively deployed. These couples provided information on current marital satisfaction, topics discussed during deployment (problem talk, friendship talk, love talk), and how they communicated via synchronous media (e.g., phone calls, video calls) and letters during deployment. Nonparametric Friedman tests followed by paired t tests revealed that synchronous communication was primarily utilized for friendship talk, whereas letters included friendship talk and love talk in similar amounts. Both synchronous communication and letters included less problem talk than other topics. In mixed-level modeling, only topics of communication for synchronous media (not for letters) were related to relationship satisfaction. Love talk via synchronous media was related to higher relationship satisfaction, whereas problem talk via synchronous media was related to less relationship satisfaction. The current study offers the first quantitative assessment of topics within deployment communication media and associations with relationship satisfaction. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/fam0000373DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5858224PMC
February 2018

Sexuality Within Female Same-Gender Couples: Definitions of Sex, Sexual Frequency Norms, and Factors Associated with Sexual Satisfaction.

Arch Sex Behav 2018 04 28;47(3):681-692. Epub 2017 Nov 28.

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Frontier Hall, Denver, CO, USA.

Despite a growing number of female same-gender (FSG) relationships, couples-based research and interventions have focused primarily on mixed-gender couples. Consequently, research has applied a heteronormative lens to understanding some relationship factors, including sexuality. The current study sought to provide descriptive data regarding frequency and conceptualizations of sex across partners in FSG relationships, as well as to analyze how relationship factors are associated with sexual satisfaction in this population. Participants (N = 206) were 103 adult FSG couples who had been together for at least 2 months. Individuals provided self-report data on how they conceptualized sex, and actor-partner models were utilized to assess relationship factors associated with sexual satisfaction. Findings indicated that women in FSG relationships hold broad definitions of sex, with the majority of behaviors conceptualized as sex, including acts that involved partnered genital touching. In dyadic actor-partner models, sexual satisfaction was predicted by several factors including sexual frequency, emotional intimacy, and sexual intimacy. Unexpectedly, higher desired sexual frequency was associated with lower sexual satisfaction; however, this finding only emerged after controlling for actual sexual frequency, suggesting that discrepancies between desired and actual sex frequency may be important for FSG couples. Implications for clinical practice with FSG couples are explored, including a strength-based focus on broad conceptualizations of sex within this population and targeting relationship factors associated with sexual satisfaction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-1077-3DOI Listing
April 2018

Associations Between Participant Ratings of PREP for Strong Bonds and Marital Outcomes 1 Year Postintervention.

Mil Psychol 2017 Jul 23;29(4):283-293. Epub 2017 Jan 23.

University of Denver.

After completing a relationship education program, collecting participant evaluations of the program is common practice. These are generally used as an index of "consumer satisfaction" with the program, with implications for feasibility and quality. Rarely have these ratings been used as predictors of changes in marital quality, although such feedback may be the only data providers collect or have immediate access to when considering the success of their efforts. To better understand the utility of such ratings to predict outcomes, we evaluated links between participant ratings and changes in self-reported marital satisfaction and communication scores one year later for a sample of 191 Army couples who had participated in a relationship education program delivered by Army chaplains (PREP for Strong Bonds). Overall ratings of general satisfaction with the program and the leader did not predict changes in marital outcomes one year later, whereas higher ratings of how much was learned, program helpfulness, increased similarity in outlook regarding Army life, and helpfulness of communication skills training predicted greater change in communication skills one year later. Higher ratings of items reflecting intent to invest more time in the relationship, and increased confidence in constructive communication and working as a team with the spouse predicted greater increases in both marital satisfaction and communication skills one year later. The constructs of intention and confidence (akin to perceived behavioral control) suggest that the Theory of Planned Behavior may be particularly useful when considering which Army couples will show ongoing benefit after relationship education.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/mil0000155DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5560496PMC
July 2017

Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater? Serial Infidelity Across Subsequent Relationships.

Arch Sex Behav 2017 Nov 7;46(8):2301-2311. Epub 2017 Aug 7.

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, 2155 S. Race St., Denver, CO, 80208-3500, USA.

Although there is a large body of research addressing predictors of relationship infidelity, no study to our knowledge has specifically addressed infidelity in a previous relationship as a risk factor for infidelity in a subsequent relationship. The current study addressed risk for serial infidelity by following adult participants (N = 484) longitudinally through two mixed-gender romantic relationships. Participants reported their own extra-dyadic sexual involvement (ESI) (i.e., having sexual relations with someone other than their partner) as well as both known and suspected ESI on the part of their partners in each romantic relationship. Findings from logistic regressions showed that those who reported engaging in ESI in the first relationship were three times more likely to report engaging in ESI in their next relationship compared to those who did not report engaging in ESI in the first relationship. Similarly, compared to those who reported that their first-relationship partners did not engage in ESI, those who knew that their partners in the first relationships had engaged in ESI were twice as likely to report the same behavior from their next relationship partners. Those who suspected their first-relationship partners of ESI were four times more likely to report suspicion of partner ESI again in their next relationships. These findings controlled for demographic risk factors for infidelity and held regardless of respondent gender or marital status. Thus, prior infidelity emerged as an important risk factor for infidelity in next relationships. Implications for novel intervention targets for prevention of serial relationship infidelity are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-1018-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5709195PMC
November 2017

Within- and Between-Family Associations of Marital Functioning and Child Well-being.

J Marriage Fam 2017 Apr 28;79(2):451-461. Epub 2016 Sep 28.

University of Denver.

This study clarifies within-family and between-family links between marital functioning and child wellbeing. Expanding on existing prospective research, this study tests whether changes in parents' marital functioning are associated with corresponding changes in their children's wellbeing, independent from associations that exist when comparing different families. Participants ( = 1033) were members of married, opposite-sex couples with children who participated in five waves of a larger study of marriage in the U.S. Army. Spouses' constructive communication, verbal conflict, and marital satisfaction each showed between-family associations with parent-reported child internalizing and externalizing problems. In contrast, within-family associations were significant only for parents' communication behaviors. That is, parents who reported lower levels of marital satisfaction also reported lower child wellbeing, whereas change in parents' communication was associated with change in child wellbeing over time. Isolating within-family effects is important for understanding marital and child functioning and for identifying potential targets for effective intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12373DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5382797PMC
April 2017

Changes in the Sexual Relationship and Relationship Adjustment Precede Extradyadic Sexual Involvement.

Arch Sex Behav 2017 Feb 29;46(2):395-406. Epub 2016 Jul 29.

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Frontier Hall, 2155 S. Race St., Denver, CO, 80208, USA.

Extradyadic sexual involvement (ESI) is associated with negative consequences for individuals and threatens couple stability. Research on ESI in unmarried samples has been marked by methodological limitations, such as examining only mean levels of sexual satisfaction or frequency to predict later ESI as opposed to changes in various aspects of the sexual relationship over time. The current study compared linear trajectories of four aspects of the sexual relationship-sexual satisfaction, frequency of sex, comfort communicating about sex, and sexual closeness-between individuals in opposite-sex, unmarried relationships who subsequently engaged in ESI (ESI group; n = 183) compared to individuals who did not engage in ESI (non-ESI group; n = 603). Trajectories of relationship adjustment were also evaluated leading up to ESI as well as controlled for in models evaluating the sexual relationship. Results indicated that relationship adjustment declined for individuals preceding ESI, but did not change for the non-ESI group. When controlling for relationship adjustment, comfort communicating about sex decreased for ESI women but increased for ESI men. Some results became nonsignificant after controlling for relationship adjustment, including that sexual satisfaction declined more steeply in the ESI group compared to the non-ESI group, and ESI women significantly decreased in sexual closeness while ESI men demonstrated no significant change. Some mean level differences were also discovered directly before ESI. Conclusions include that changes in a couple's sexual relationship and relationship adjustment are associated with ESI behaviors, providing novel information regarding normative and risk trajectories.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0797-0DOI Listing
February 2017

Relationship Education for Military Couples: Recommendations for Best Practice.

Fam Process 2017 06 2;56(2):302-316. Epub 2016 Mar 2.

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO.

Military couples have a number of distinctive strengths and challenges that are likely to influence their relationship adjustment. Military couples' strengths include stable employment, financial security, and subsidized health and counseling services. At the same time, military couples often experience long periods of separation and associated difficulties with emotional disconnect, trauma symptoms, and reintegrating the family. This paper describes best practice recommendations for working with military couples, including: addressing the distinctive challenges of the military lifestyle, ensuring program delivery is seen as relevant by military couples, and providing relationship education in formats that enhance the accessibility of programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12211DOI Listing
June 2017

Couples Relationship Education and Couples Therapy: Healthy Marriage or Strange Bedfellows?

Fam Process 2015 Dec 7;54(4):655-71. Epub 2015 Nov 7.

University of Denver, Denver, CO.

This paper focuses on issues sparked by the Couples Relationship Education (CRE) field moving toward a more clinical model to meet the needs of an increasing number of distressed couples coming to CRE programs. We review the concerns raised and recommendations made by Bradford, Hawkins, and Acker (2015), most of which push CRE toward a more clinical model. We address these recommendations and make suggestions for best practices that preserve the prevention/education model underlying research-based CRE. The three main issues are couple screening, leader training, and service delivery models. Our suggested best practices include: conducting minimal screening including the assessment of dangerous levels of couple violence, training leaders with key skills to handle issues raised by distressed couples as well as other couples who may place additional burdens on leaders, providing referrals and choices of programs available to participants at intake and throughout the CRE program, and adding (rather than integrating) clinical services to CRE services for couples who desire additional intervention. Finally, throughout the paper, we review other key issues in the CRE field and make recommendations made for future research and practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12191DOI Listing
December 2015

Can marriage education mitigate the risks associated with premarital cohabitation?

J Fam Psychol 2015 Jun 4;29(3):500-6. Epub 2015 May 4.

Department of Psychology, University of Colorado Denver.

This study tested whether relationship education (i.e., the Prevention and Relationship Education Program; PREP) can mitigate the risk of having cohabited before making a mutual commitment to marry (i.e., "precommitment cohabitation") for marital distress and divorce. Using data from a study of PREP for married couples in the U.S. Army (N = 662 couples), we found that there was a significant association between precommitment cohabitation and lower marital satisfaction and dedication before random assignment to intervention. After intervention, this precommitment cohabitation effect was only apparent in the control group. Specifically, significant interactions between intervention condition and cohabitation history indicated that for the control group, but not the PREP group, precommitment cohabitation was associated with lower dedication as well as declines in marital satisfaction and increases in negative communication over time. Furthermore, those with precommitment cohabitation were more likely to divorce by the 2-year follow-up only in the control group; there were no differences in divorce based on premarital cohabitation history in the PREP group. These findings are discussed in light of current research on cohabitation and relationship education; potential implications are also considered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/fam0000081DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4461475PMC
June 2015

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Relationship Education in the U.S. Army: 2-Year Outcomes.

Fam Relat 2014 Oct;63(4):484-495

University of Denver.

This study examined the effectiveness of an evidence-based, community-delivered adaptation of couple relationship education (CRE; specifically, PREP, The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program) delivered at two Army installations. The study is a randomized controlled trial with two years of follow-up, examining marital quality and stability. Sample composition was 662 married couples with a spouse in the U.S. Army. Analyses yielded no evidence of overall enduring intervention effects on relationship quality but couples assigned to intervention at the higher risk site were significantly less likely than controls to be divorced at the two-year follow-up (8.1% vs. 14.9%, < .01). This effect was moderated by ethnic minority status. Specifically, the impact of the intervention on divorce was strongest for minority couples. The findings add to the literature on who may benefit most from CRE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fare.12083DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4237282PMC
October 2014

Meaningfulness of service and marital satisfaction in Army couples.

J Fam Psychol 2014 Oct 21;28(5):701-6. Epub 2014 Jul 21.

Department of Psychology, University of Denver.

The vast numbers of military service members who have been deployed since 2001 highlights the need to better understand relationships of military couples. A unique consideration in military couples is the concept of meaningfulness of service, or the value service members and their partners place on military service in spite of the sacrifices it requires. In a sample of 606 Army couples, the authors used path analysis to examine how male service members' and female spouses' perceived meaningfulness of service added to the prediction of marital satisfaction in both members of the couple, when accounting for service members' PTSD symptoms. Spouses' perceived meaningfulness of service was linked with higher marital satisfaction in spouses, regardless of service member's perceived meaningfulness of service. Service members' perceived meaningfulness of service was also associated with increased marital satisfaction in service members, but only when their spouses also perceived higher meaningfulness. There were no significant interactions between service members' PTSD and either partner's perceived meaningfulness. Implications for enhanced attention to spousal perceptions of meaningfulness of service are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/fam0000013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4383030PMC
October 2014

Perceived criticism and marital adjustment predict depressive symptoms in a community sample.

Behav Ther 2014 Jul 13;45(4):564-75. Epub 2014 Mar 13.

University of Denver.

Depressive symptoms are related to a host of negative individual and family outcomes; therefore, it is important to establish risk factors for depressive symptoms to design prevention efforts. Following studies in the marital and psychiatric literatures regarding marital factors associated with depression, we tested two potential predictors of depressive symptoms: marital adjustment and perceived spousal criticism. We assessed 249 spouses from 132 married couples from the community during their first year of marriage and at three time points over the next 10 years. Initial marital adjustment significantly predicted depressive symptoms for husbands and wives at all follow-ups. Further, perceived criticism significantly predicted depressive symptoms at the 5- and 10-year follow-ups. However, at the 1-year follow-up, this association was significant for men but not for women. Finally, a model where the contributions of marital adjustment and perceived criticism were tested together suggested that both play independent roles in predicting future depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the potential importance of increasing marital adjustment and reducing perceived criticism at the outset of marriage as a way to reduce depressive symptoms during the course of marriage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2014.03.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4298123PMC
July 2014

Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention: Implications for Improving Relationship Education.

Couple Family Psychol 2013 Jun;2(2):131-145

Department of Psychology, University of Denver.

The study presents findings from interviews of 52 divorced individuals who received the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) while engaged to be married. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the study sought to understand participant reasons for divorce (including identification of the "final straw") in order to understand if the program covered these topics effectively. Participants also provided suggestions based on their premarital education experiences so as to improve future relationship education efforts. The most commonly reported major contributors to divorce were lack of commitment, infidelity, and conflict/arguing. The most common "final straw" reasons were infidelity, domestic violence, and substance use. More participants blamed their partners than blamed themselves for the divorce. Recommendations from participants for the improvement of premarital education included receiving relationship education before making a commitment to marry (when it would be easier to break-up), having support for implementing skills outside of the educational setting, and increasing content about the stages of typical marital development. These results provide new insights into the timing and content of premarital and relationship education.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0032025DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4012696PMC
June 2013

Partners' attributions for service members' symptoms of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder.

Behav Ther 2014 Mar 29;45(2):187-98. Epub 2013 Oct 29.

University of Denver.

The association of service members' combat-related PTSD with partners' distress is weaker when spouses/partners believe that service members experienced more traumatic events during deployment. Also, when simultaneously examining partners' perceptions of all PTSD symptoms, perceptions of reexperiencing symptoms (the symptoms most obviously connected to traumatic events) are significantly negatively related to distress in partners. These findings are consistent with the notion that partners may be less distressed if they make external, rather than internal, attributions for service members' symptoms. The present study explicitly tests this possibility. Civilian wives of active duty service members completed measures regarding their own marital satisfaction, their perceptions of service members' combat exposure during deployments, their perceptions of service members' symptoms of PTSD, and their attributions for those symptoms. External attributions were significantly positively associated with perceptions of combat exposure (rp=.31) and reexperiencing symptoms (β=.33) and significantly negatively associated with perceptions of numbing/withdrawal symptoms (rp=-.22). In contrast, internal attributions were significantly negatively associated with perceptions of reexperiencing symptoms (β=-.18) and significantly positively associated with perceptions of numbing/withdrawal symptoms (β=.46). Internal attributions significantly moderated the negative association of PTSD symptoms with marital satisfaction, such that the association strengthened as internal attributions increased. These findings are the first explicit support for an attributional understanding of distress in partners of combat veterans. Interventions that alter partners' attributions may improve marital functioning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2013.10.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4221160PMC
March 2014

Relationship quality, commitment, and stability in long-distance relationships.

Fam Process 2013 Jun 18;52(2):257-70. Epub 2012 Sep 18.

Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA.

Using a nationally representative sample (N = 870), the present study compared long-distance romantic relationships to close-proximity romantic relationships in terms of relationship quality, commitment, and stability. Individuals in long-distance relationships generally reported higher levels of relationship quality on a number of relationship quality variables, as well as higher levels of dedication to their relationships and lower levels of feeling trapped (i.e., felt constraint), but were similar to individuals in close-proximity relationships in terms of perceived and material constraints. Although individuals in long-distance relationships perceived a lower likelihood of breaking up with their partner at the initial time point, they were as likely as the individuals in close-proximity relationships to have broken up by the follow-up assessment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1545-5300.2012.01418.xDOI Listing
June 2013

Attitudes Toward Divorce, Commitment, and Divorce Proneness in First Marriages and Remarriages.

J Marriage Fam 2013 Apr;75(2):276-287

Department of Psychology, Mail Center 0376, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0376.

A random multistate sample of married individuals ( = 1,931) was used to explore whether more positive attitudes toward divorce and weaker commitment to marriage may contribute to the greater instability of remarriages than first marriages. Remarried adults, whether or not they brought children from a previous union into the remarriage, reported marital quality (happiness and conflict) equal to those in first marriages. They also reported more positive attitudes toward divorce, which were associated with higher divorce proneness (i.e., thinking about and taking actions toward divorce). Marriage type interacted with marital quality to predict divorce proneness, such that the association between low marital quality and divorce proneness was stronger for remarried individuals than for those in first marriages. This suggests that remarried adults may be more likely than adults in first marriages to take steps toward divorce when experiencing marital distress, possibly reflecting a weaker commitment to marriage.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3636559PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12008DOI Listing
April 2013

A randomized clinical trial of the effectiveness of premarital intervention: moderators of divorce outcomes.

J Fam Psychol 2013 Feb;27(1):165-72

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208-3500, USA.

This study examined the effects of premarital relationship intervention on divorce during the first 8 years of first marriage. Religious organizations were randomly assigned to have couples marrying through them complete the Prevention and Relationship Education Program (PREP) or their naturally occurring premarital services. Results indicated no differences in overall divorce rates between naturally occurring services (n = 44), PREP delivered by clergy at religious organizations (n = 66), or PREP delivered by professionals at a university (n = 83). Three moderators were also tested. Measured premaritally and before intervention, the level of negativity of couples' interactions moderated effects. Specifically, couples observed to have higher levels of negative communication in a video task were more likely to divorce if they received PREP than if they received naturally occurring services; couples with lower levels of premarital negative communication were more likely to remain married if they received PREP. A history of physical aggression in the current relationship before marriage and before intervention showed a similar pattern as a moderator, but the effect was only marginally significant. Family-of-origin background (parental divorce and/or aggression) was not a significant moderator of prevention effects across the two kinds of services. Implications for defining risk, considering divorce as a positive versus negative outcome, the practice of premarital relationship education, and social policy are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0031134DOI Listing
February 2013

A more optimistic perspective on government-supported marriage and relationship education programs for lower income couples.

Am Psychol 2013 Feb-Mar;68(2):110-1

School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602-6723, USA.

Comments on the original article by Matthew D. Johnson (see record 2012-08242-001). It is important to challenge some of Johnson's points about the effectiveness and reach of interventions to lower income couples and couples of color and his suggested prioritization of basic over applied research. With emerging findings and practical knowledge gained in lower income communities from all across the United States over the past decade, we see evidence to support optimism for the potential utility of marriage and relationship education (MRE) programs to help disadvantaged and minority couples. Accordingly, continued support for these efforts is justified. We anticipate that the potential of these first-generation programs will only increase as the research Johnson called for advances our understanding of low-income and minority couple relationships, as more programs are rigorously evaluated, and as we learn and disseminate best practices from programs now in the field.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0031792DOI Listing
April 2014

A longitudinal examination of the Adaptation to Poverty-Related Stress Model: predicting child and adolescent adjustment over time.

J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 2013 16;42(5):713-25. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

a Department of Psychology , The Pennsylvania State University.

This study tests key tenets of the Adaptation to Poverty-related Stress Model. This model (Wadsworth, Raviv, Santiago, & Etter, 2011 ) builds on Conger and Elder's family stress model by proposing that primary control coping and secondary control coping can help reduce the negative effects of economic strain on parental behaviors central to the family stress model, namely, parental depressive symptoms and parent-child interactions, which together can decrease child internalizing and externalizing problems. Two hundred seventy-five co-parenting couples with children between the ages of 1 and 18 participated in an evaluation of a brief family strengthening intervention, aimed at preventing economic strain's negative cascade of influence on parents, and ultimately their children. The longitudinal path model, analyzed at the couple dyad level with mothers and fathers nested within couple, showed very good fit, and was not moderated by child gender or ethnicity. Analyses revealed direct positive effects of primary control coping and secondary control coping on mothers' and fathers' depressive symptoms. Decreased economic strain predicted more positive father-child interactions, whereas increased secondary control coping predicted less negative mother-child interactions. Positive parent-child interactions, along with decreased parent depression and economic strain, predicted child internalizing and externalizing over the course of 18 months. Multiple-group models analyzed separately by parent gender revealed, however, that child age moderated father effects. Findings provide support for the adaptation to poverty-related stress model and suggest that prevention and clinical interventions for families affected by poverty-related stress may be strengthened by including modules that address economic strain and efficacious strategies for coping with strain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2012.755926DOI Listing
May 2014

Parents' Marital Status, Conflict, and Role Modeling: Links With Adult Romantic Relationship Quality.

J Divorce Remarriage 2012 12;53(5):348-367. Epub 2012 Jul 12.

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA.

This study investigated three parental marital statuses and relationship quality among unmarried, but dating adults ages 18 to 35 (N = 1153). Those whose parents never married one another tended to report the lowest relationship quality (in terms of relationship adjustment, negative communication, commitment, and physical aggression) compared to those with divorced or married biological parents. In addition, those with divorced parents reported lower relationship adjustment and more negative communication than those with married parents. Parental conflict and the degree to which participants rated their parents' relationship as a healthy model for their own relationships partially explained the associations between parental marital status and relationship outcomes. We suggest that this particular family type (i.e., having parents who never marry one another) needs greater attention in this field in terms of research and intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10502556.2012.675838DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3399587PMC
July 2012

Marriage Education in the Army: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial.

J Couple Relatsh Ther 2011 Oct 7;10(4):309-326. Epub 2011 Oct 7.

University of Colorado Denver.

Although earlier studies have demonstrated promising effects of relationship education for military couples, these studies have lacked random assignment. The current study evaluated the short-term effects of relationship education for Army couples in a randomized clinical trial at two sites (476 couples at Site 1 and 184 couples at Site 2). At both sites, participant satisfaction with the program was high. Intervention and control couples were compared on relative amounts of pre-intervention to post-intervention change. At Site 1, not all variables showed the predicted intervention effects, although we found significant and positive intervention effects for communication skills, confidence that the marriage can survive over the long haul, positive bonding between the partners, and satisfaction with sacrificing for the marriage or the partner. However, at Site 2, we found significant and positive intervention effects for communication skills only. Possible site differences as moderators of intervention effects are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15332691.2011.613309DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3377183PMC
October 2011

A Longitudinal Investigation of Commitment Dynamics in Cohabiting Relationships.

J Fam Issues 2012 Mar 15;33(3):369-390. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

University of Denver.

This longitudinal study followed 120 cohabiting couples over 8 months to test hypotheses derived from commitment theory about how two types of commitment (dedication and constraints) operate during cohabitation. In nearly half the couples, there were large differences between partners in terms of dedication. These differences were associated with lower relationship adjustment, even controlling for overall level of dedication. Further, among couples who believed in the institution of marriage, cohabiting women were, on average, more dedicated than their partners. Additionally, there was evidence that constraints (e.g., signing a lease, having a joint bank account) may make it less likely that couples will break-up, regardless of relationship dedication. This finding was strongest for women and for those with higher income levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0192513X11420940DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3377181PMC
March 2012

The Revised Commitment Inventory: Psychometrics and Use with Unmarried Couples.

J Fam Issues 2011 Jun 18;32(6):820-841. Epub 2010 Oct 18.

University of Louisville.

The Commitment Inventory (Stanley & Markman, 1992) measures interpersonal commitment (dedication) and constraint commitment. Since it was first published, substantial revisions have been made, but there are no published data on the psychometric properties of the new version. Further, little information is available on measuring commitment for unmarried couples. This study examined the psychometric properties of the Commitment Inventory in 320 premarital or cohabiting couples (N = 640). Dyadic confirmatory factor analyses revealed that the hypothesized factor structure of six constraint subscales and one dedication subscale fit the data well for both men and women. Internal consistency coefficients were within acceptable range for most subscales. Within-couple correlations as well as correlations among subscales and with relationship quality, negative communication, and religiosity are presented. Implications for future research are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0192513X10385788DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3348588PMC
June 2011
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