Physical aggression and marital dysfunction: a longitudinal analysis

J Fam Psychol. 2001 Mar;15(1):135-54. doi: 10.1037//0893-3200.15.1.135.


Shortly after marriage, 56 couples provided data on physical aggression and other predictors of marital adjustment. At 6-month intervals over the next 4 years, spouses reported on their marital quality and stability. Results indicated that marital dysfunction was more common among aggressive than among nonaggressive couples (70% vs. 38%) and among severely aggressive than among moderately aggressive couples (93% vs. 46%). Aggression remained a reliable predictor of marital outcomes after the authors controlled for stressful events and negative communication. These findings help to refine developmental models of marital dysfunction, which often overlook the role of aggression, and can provide information for prevention programs for marital distress, which typically do not distinguish between aggressive and nonaggressive couples.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Life Change Events
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*