Transactional Associations Between Couple Relationship Intimacy and Depressive Symptoms Across 10 Years

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Journal of Marriage and Family






Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.

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Objective This study tested a transactional model of associations between couple relationship intimacy and one's own and one's partner's depressive symptoms across 10 years. Background Depressive symptoms and couple relationship intimacy are important aspects of individual functioning and family well‐being. Partners' mental health and experiences in couple relationships may be interdependent. Method Six waves of data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development were used. At each wave, 654 couples (654 men and 654 women all married and/or living together) reported their relationship intimacy and depressive symptoms. An actor–partner interdependence random intercept cross‐lagged panel model was estimated to examine reciprocal relations between men's and women's depressive symptoms and couple relationship intimacy. Results The cross‐lagged paths showed that higher than personal average couple relationship intimacy perceived by men and women predicted intraindividual increases in their partner's perceptions of couple relationship intimacy at the next time point. Moreover, for women, higher than personal average relationship intimacy predicted subsequent intraindividual decreases in their depressive symptoms (while the reverse was not true), whereas for men, lower than average depressive symptoms predicted intraindividual increases in self‐perceived relationship intimacy (while the reverse was not significant). Conclusion We found reverse temporal precedence of depressive symptoms and couple relationship intimacy for men and women. Partners' relationship intimacy was interdependent.

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