Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 601-619

First online:

Hostility and erosion of marital quality during early marriage

  • Tamara L. NewtonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Ohio State University College of Medicine
  • , Janice K. Kiecolt-GlaserAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Ohio State University College of Medicine

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We examined the association between hostility and longitudinal changes in marital quality in a sample of 53 newlywed couples who were in their first marriages and were without children. Spouses' reports of marital quality were assessed initially at an average of 5 months into marriage and, thereafter, at three follow-up points approximately 1, 2, and 3 years subsequent to the date of marriage. Individual growth models were computed to assess the rate of change of marital quality. Hostility among husbands was significantly associated with linear decreases in their own, and their wives', reports of marital quality, even after controlling for the passage of time and the correlated variable of neuroticism. Results are consistent with the psychosocial vulnerability model of hostility and illness (Smith,Health Psychol. 11: 139–150, 1992), which posits that associations between hostility and heightened risk for morbidity and mortality are partially mediated by poor-quality relationships that develop as a consequence of the abrasive interpersonal properties of hostility.

Key Words

interpersonal hostility longitudinal design marital quality psychosocial vulnerability