Sequential interactions in the marital communication of depressed men and women

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2000 Feb;68(1):4-12. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.68.1.4.


Despite studies showing patterns of sequential interaction between depressed wives and their husbands, no published research has contrasted sequential interactions of depressed husbands and their wives. This study compared problem-solving interactions of 49 couples with a depressed husband, 41 with a depressed wife, and 50 normal controls. Interactions were coded using the Marital Interaction Coding System. Although no clear patterns of sequential interaction distinguished couples with a depressed wife from normal control couples, results suggested a unique pattern of interaction between depressed husbands and their spouses, whereby positive communications from the husband resulted in decreased positivity and increased negativity from their wives. Given the importance of positivity for promoting effective problem solving, this pattern appears to have important implications for couples' long-term marital satisfaction and husbands' mood regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Problem Solving