Daily marital interactions and positive affect during marital conflict among newlywed couples

Fam Process. 2004 Sep;43(3):301-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2004.00024.x.


The mundane and often fleeting moments that a couple experiences in their everyday lives may contribute to the health or deterioration of a relationship by serving as a foundation to major couple events such as conflict discussions and caring days. This study examines the role of playfulness and enthusiasm in everyday life to the use of humor and affection during conflict. Using observational methods, we studied 49 newlywed couples in a 10-minute dinnertime interaction and in a 15-minute conflict discussion. The conflict discussion was coded using the Specific Affect Coding System (SPAFF; Gottman, Coan, & McCoy, 1996), and a new observational system was developed to capture dinnertime interactions in a seminatural setting. We analyzed the data using path analysis and found a stronger path model when the direction of correlation moved from daily moments to the conflict discussion. These findings provide preliminary support for the importance of daily moments in couple relationships, but this research was strictly observational and therefore correlational, so further research is necessary to determine direction of causation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Expressed Emotion
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Marital Therapy / methods*
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Washington