Marital processes predictive of later dissolution: behavior, physiology, and health

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1992 Aug;63(2):221-33. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.63.2.221.


Seventy-three married couples were studied in 1983 and 1987. To identify marital processes associated with dissolution, a balance theory of marriage was used to generate 1 variable for dividing couples into regulated and nonregulated groups. For studying the precursors of divorce, a "cascade" model of marital dissolution, which forms a Guttman-like scale, received preliminary support. Compared with regulated couples, nonregulated couples had (a) marital problems rated as more severe (Time 1); (b) lower marital satisfaction (Time 1 and Time 2); (c) poorer health (Time 2); (d) smaller finger pulse amplitudes (wives); (e) more negative ratings for interactions; (f) more negative emotional expression; (g) less positive emotional expression; (h) more stubbornness and withdrawal from interaction; (i) greater defensiveness; and (j) greater risk for marital dissolution (lower marital satisfaction and higher incidence of consideration of dissolution and of actual separation).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Attitude
  • Divorce*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Personality Inventory
  • Probability
  • Sex Factors