Pulling away: Links among disengaged couple communication, relationship distress, and depressive symptoms.

Interpersonal theories of depression suggest that how couples communicate helps to explain bidirectional links between depressive symptoms and relationship distress. Disengaged and aversive couple communication should help explain these links. However, most research examining associations among couple communication, depressive symptoms and relationship distress have focused on aversive communication behaviors. Thus, this research examined associations among depressive symptoms, disengaged couple communication, and relationship distress in 2 studies. Study 1 examined cross-sectional associations using 2 heterogeneous samples of individuals in romantic relationships assessed via online survey. Study 2 examined the associations over 2 time points using Actor-Partner Interdependence Modeling with data provided by newlywed couples. The first aim was to examine whether depressive symptoms were uniquely associated with disengaged couple communication after controlling for relationship distress and aversive couple communication. The second aim was to test whether disengaged couple communication explained the bidirectional associations between depressive symptoms and relationship distress controlling for aversive communication. Results for Aim 1 were consistent across studies. Depressive symptoms were uniquely associated with disengaged couple communication. Results for Aim 2 indicate that disengaged couple communication uniquely explains bidirectional associations between co-occurring relationship distress and depressive symptoms; and husbands’ disengaged communication explains the association between husbands’ depressive symptoms and husbands decline in relationship satisfaction. Results indicate there are unique contributions of disengaged couple communication for interpersonal theories of depression and suggest the importance of helping couple-members to effectively and meaningfully engage with one another. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)