Gender differences in the impact of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms on community couples' intimacy behaviors

Kaitlin E. Hanley, Feea R. Leifker, Alysia Y. Blandon, Amy D. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Problems in intimate relationships frequently occur among individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study includes examination of whether deficits in the intimacy process occur among couples affected by PTSD, and whether gender differences exist in the association between PTSD symptom severity and intimate behaviors. Heterosexual community couples in which at least 1 partner was experiencing elevated symptoms of PTSD were video-recorded while discussing positive and negative aspects of their relationship. Each partner's intimacy behaviors (i.e., self-disclosure and support provision) were coded. Results of an actor-partner interdependence model indicate that husbands, but not wives, with greater PTSD symptom severity provided less support (i.e., expressions of understanding, validation, and caring) to their partners during discussions of negative aspects of their relationship. This finding supports prior literature while increasing generalizability beyond samples of male combat veterans and addressing a possible confound of prior research that has exclusively relied on self-reported intimacy. In addition, wives' PTSD symptom severity was associated with husbands engaging in more self-disclosure when discussing negative aspects of their relationship, which may have represented husbands' expression of more negative thoughts and feelings in this context. Overall, women appeared to be resilient against the potential negative impact of PTSD symptoms on their ability to continue providing intimacy behaviors to their partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-530
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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