Hard times and hurtful partners: how financial strain affects depression and relationship satisfaction of unemployed persons and their spouses

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1996 Jul;71(1):166-79. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.71.1.166.


The process linking unemployment and economic hardship to depression and marital or relationship satisfaction in couples was examined. Using structural equation modeling, the authors tested models in which financial strain and partners' symptoms of depression influence the behavioral exchange of the couples in terms of social support and social undermining and, in turn, the effects of support and undermining on relationship satisfaction and depressive symptoms. The analyses were based on longitudinal data from 815 recently unemployed job seekers and their spouses or partners. The results demonstrated that financial strain had significant effects on depressive symptoms of both partners, which in turn led the partner to withdraw social support and increase social undermining. Reduced supportive and increase undermining behaviors had additional adverse effects on satisfaction with the relationship and on depressive symptoms.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*
  • Spouses / psychology
  • Unemployment / psychology*
  • Vocational Guidance