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Concept: Spouse


For married couples, when one spouse participates in weight loss treatment, the untreated spouse can also experience weight loss. This study examined this ripple effect in a nationally available weight management program.

Concepts: Marriage, Randomized controlled trial, Spouse, Ripple effect, Butterfly effect


BACKGROUND: Previous studies have demonstrated that high alcohol consumption is a predictor of divorce. However, there is a lack of studies with prospective data from both spouses. The effects of drinking among husbands versus wives and of concordant versus discordant drinking in couples are therefore unknown. Concordant drinking may lead to increased divorce rates because the malignant effects of heavy drinking are experienced in double doses; alternatively it may lead to marital stability due to partner compatibility. METHODS: All inhabitants in a Norwegian county were invited to participate in a health study. We identified 19,977 married couples where both spouses participated. Respondents provided information on alcohol use and mental distress. Survival analysis was applied to study the risk of divorce over the next 15 years. Demographics and mental distress were used as covariates. RESULTS: Heavy drinking among men (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.39) and women (HR = 1.41) increased the risk of future marital dissolution, even after adjusting for demography (reference group “light drinkers”). The HR for divorce was 1.51 when only the husband was a heavy drinker, while it was 3.07 when only the wife was a heavy drinker. Moreover, there were strong interaction effects: concordant abstainers (HR = 0.40) and concordant heavy drinkers (HR = 0.35) had lower risks of divorce compared to the risk expected from combining the main effects. Nevertheless, couples with 2 heavy drinkers (HR = 1.63) had higher risk of divorce than couples with 2 light drinkers. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that both the level of alcohol use and compatibility in alcohol use are important predictors of marital dissolution.

Concepts: Marriage, Demography, Alcoholism, Husband, Drinking culture, Binge drinking, Wife, Spouse


Research on the association between marijuana use and intimate partner violence (IPV) has generated inconsistent findings, and has been primarily based on cross-sectional data. We examined whether husbands' and wives' marijuana use predicted both husbands' and wives' IPV perpetration over the first 9 years of marriage (Wave 1, n = 634 couples). We also examined moderation by antisocial behavior, the spouse’s marijuana use, and whether IPV was reported during the year before marriage. These predictive associations were calculated using a time-lagged multivariate generalized multilevel model, simultaneously estimating predictors of husband and wife IPV. In fully adjusted models, we found that more frequent marijuana use by husbands and wives predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by husbands. Husbands' marijuana use also predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by wives. Moderation analyses demonstrated that couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV perpetration. There was a significant positive association between wives' marijuana use and wives' IPV perpetration, but only among wives who had already reported IPV perpetration during the year before marriage. These findings suggest there may be an overall inverse association between marijuana use and IPV perpetration in newly married couples, although use may be associated with greater risk of perpetration among women with a history of IPV perpetration. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Family, Marriage, Domestic violence, Husband, Human sexuality, Wife, Spouse, Alimony


The authors examined associations between marital quality and both general life satisfaction and experienced (momentary) well-being among older husbands and wives, the relative importance of own versus spouse’s marital appraisals for well-being, and the extent to which the association between own marital appraisals and well-being is moderated by spouse’s appraisals. Data are from the 2009 Disability and Use of Time daily diary supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (N = 722). One’s own marital satisfaction is a sizable and significant correlate of life satisfaction and momentary happiness; associations do not differ significantly by gender. The authors did not find a significant association between spouse’s marital appraisals and own well-being. However, the association between husband’s marital quality and life satisfaction is buoyed when his wife also reports a happy marriage, yet flattened when his wife reports low marital quality. Implications for understanding marital dynamics and well-being in later life are discussed.

Concepts: Marriage, The Association, Husband, Personal life, Happiness, Wife, Spouse, Panel Study of Income Dynamics


The current study examined whether directly altering affective associations involving a relationship partner through evaluative conditioning can lead to changes in relationship satisfaction. Married couples ( N = 144) were asked to view a brief stream of images once every 3 days for 6 weeks. Embedded in this stream were pictures of the partner, which, according to random assignment of couples to experimental group, were paired with either positive or neutral stimuli. Couples also completed measures of automatic partner attitudes and explicit marital satisfaction at baseline and once every 2 weeks for 8 weeks. Spouses who viewed their partners paired with positive stimuli demonstrated more-positive automatic partner attitudes than did control spouses, and these attitudes predicted increased self-reported marital satisfaction over time. These results provide novel evidence for a mechanism of change in relationship satisfaction, represent a step toward documenting how strong attitudes can evolve through passive exposure to information, and suggest novel avenues for relationship interventions.

Concepts: Marriage, Affect, Experiment, Change, Affect display, Spouse


You marry your spouse “for better, for worse” and “for richer, for poorer,” but does your choice of partner make you richer or poorer? It is unknown whether people’s dispositional characteristics can seep into their spouses' workplace. Using a representative, longitudinal sample of married individuals (N = 4,544), we examined whether Big Five personality traits of participants' spouses related to three measures of participants' occupational success: job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of being promoted. For both male and female participants, partner conscientiousness predicted future job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of promotion, even after accounting for participants' conscientiousness. These associations occurred because more conscientious partners perform more household tasks, exhibit more pragmatic behaviors that their spouses are likely to emulate, and promote a more satisfying home life, enabling their spouses to focus more on work. These results demonstrate that the dispositional characteristics of the person one marries influence important aspects of one’s professional life.

Concepts: Psychology, Marriage, Personality psychology, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, 16 Personality Factors, Spouse, Conscientiousness


The relationship between women’s objective physical attractiveness and their dieting motivations and behaviors may depend upon their social environment-specifically, their romantic partners' attractiveness-such that less attractive women with more attractive partners may be particularly motivated to diet. Theoretically, men’s dieting motivations should not depend on their partners' attractiveness. We tested this possibility using a sample of 223 U.S. newlywed spouses. After completing measures assessing dieting motivations, each participant was photographed; we used those photographs to code spouses' objective facial and body attractiveness. Results demonstrated that own and partner attractiveness interacted to predict only women’s dieting motivations and behaviors. Less attractive wives married to more (versus less) attractive husbands reported more dieting motivations and behaviors. In contrast, men’s dieting motivations were not significantly associated with their own and their partners' attractiveness. These findings highlight the value of adopting a dyadic approach to understanding dieting motivations.

Concepts: Marriage, Understanding, Husband, Motivation, Dieting, Physical attractiveness, Wife, Spouse


Married couples might be an appropriate target for obesity prevention interventions. In the present study, we aimed to evaluate whether an individual’s risk of obesity is associated with spousal risk of obesity and whether an individual’s change in body mass index (BMI; weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) is associated with spousal BMI change. We analyzed data from 3,889 spouse pairs in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study cohort who were sampled at ages 45-65 years from 1986 to 1989 and followed for up to 25 years. We estimated hazard ratios for incident obesity by whether spouses remained nonobese, became obese, remained obese, or became nonobese. We estimated the association of participants' BMI changes with concurrent spousal BMI changes using linear mixed models. Analyses were stratified by sex. At baseline, 22.6% of men and 24.7% of women were obese. Nonobese participants whose spouses became obese were more likely to become obese themselves (for men, hazard ratio = 1.78, 95% confidence interval: 1.30, 2.43; for women, hazard ratio = 1.89, 95% confidence interval: 1.39, 2.57). With each 1-unit increase in spousal BMI change, women’s BMI change increased by 0.15 (95% confidence interval: 0.13, 0.18) and men’s BMI change increased by 0.10 (95% confidence interval: 0.09, 0.12). Having a spouse become obese nearly doubles one’s risk of becoming obese. Future research should consider exploring the efficacy of obesity prevention interventions in couples.

Concepts: Cohort study, Marriage, Obesity, Mass, Body mass index, Body shape, Wife, Spouse


The early years of marriage are a time of significant personal and relational changes as partners adjust to their new roles, but the specific ways that spouses' personalities may change in early marriage and how these changes are associated with spouses' marital satisfaction trajectories have been overlooked. Using 3 waves of data collected over the first 18 months of marriage (N = 338 spouses, or 169 heterosexual newlywed marriages), we examined changes in spouses' self-reported Big 5 personality traits over time and the association between initial levels and changes in personality and spouses' concurrent marital satisfaction trajectories. Results indicated significant changes in personality over time, including declines in agreeableness for husbands and for wives, declines in extraversion for husbands, declines in openness and neuroticism for wives, and increases in conscientiousness for husbands. These results did not differ by spouses' age, demographics, relationship length prior to marriage, cohabitation prior to marriage, initial marital satisfaction, or parenthood status. Initial levels of personality as well as changes in personality over time were associated with spouses' marital satisfaction trajectories. Taken together, these findings indicate that newlywed spouses' personalities undergo meaningful changes during the newlywed years and these changes are associated with changes in spouses' marital satisfaction. Further research is needed to understand the processes underlying changes in personality early in marriage and to examine the mechanisms linking changes in personality and changes in marital satisfaction. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Marriage, Personality psychology, Husband, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Spouse


older people aged 80 and over are increasingly providing end-of-life care to spouses at home and often do so for long periods of time, while also trying to manage their own illnesses and disabilities. Little of the research on older spousal carers has focussed on the oldest carers; hence, the needs of this particular population are not fully known.

Concepts: Scientific method, Medicine, Death, Life, Gerontology, Old age, Ageing, Spouse