Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Mark A. Whisman, Ph.D.

Abstract

Associations between a variety of mental and physical health problems in a spouse and a person’s own marital satisfaction were evaluated in a United States population-based survey of married individuals (n = 2,213). Results from analyses of covariance indicated that compared to people whose spouse did not have the corresponding health problem, marital satisfaction was lower for people with a spouse suffering from (a) serious heart problems, (b) depression, and (c) anxiety; there was no significant association between marital satisfaction and spouse’s cancer, other chronic physical illness, or alcohol and drug problems. Regression analyses were conducted to evaluate the specificity of the association between each health problem and marital satisfaction, controlling for the other health problems. Results indicated that spouse’s serious heart problem was the only health problem that was uniquely associated with participant’s marital satisfaction. These results suggest that spousal health, particularly with respect to heart problems, may be important for couple functioning, which may have implications for the practice of couple therapy.

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