Background Greater marital quality is associated with better psychological and physical health. The quality of daily marital interactions is likely to be especially important for individuals with chronic illness, but this question has received little attention. Purpose Using data from two diary studies, the current study examined whether individuals with chronic illness would experience more severe symptoms on days with more marital tension due in part to greater negative affect on those days. Methods The samples included individuals with knee osteoarthritis (OA, N = 145) or type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM, N = 129) and their spouses. Participants reported on daily marital interaction quality, affect, and symptom severity (patients only) for 22 days (knee OA) or 24 days (T2DM). Separate multilevel models were run for patients and spouses, controlling for the partner's marital tension and negative affect as well as both partners' daily marital enjoyment and positive affect. We examined same-day and across-day associations. Results For individuals with T2DM or knee OA, more severe symptoms on days with more marital tension were due in part to their greater negative affect on those days. Individuals with knee OA who experienced more pain had more negative affect and marital tension the next day. Conclusions Negative marital interactions may exacerbate physical symptoms. Effects of daily marital tension likely accumulate over time and have long-term implications for health.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health