Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 130–141 | Cite as

Family-of-Origin, Relationship Self-Regulation, and Attachment in Marital Relationships

  • Darin J. KnappEmail author
  • Aaron M. Norton
  • Jonathan G. Sandberg
Original Paper


Within the framework of the vulnerability-stress adaptation model, we created an actor partner interdependence model to assess the relationships between negative family-of-origin experiences and relationship self-regulation, a type of relationship maintenance, and the mediating potential of partner attachment behaviors. We analyzed data from 261 heterosexual married couples in matched-pair sets from the Relationship Evaluation database (see Results indicated that negative family-of-origin experiences were positively associated with relationship self-regulation and secure attachment behaviors. We also found that attachment behaviors mediated the relationship between negative family-of-origin experiences and relationship self-regulation. These findings demonstrate particular clinical relevance for strengthening attachment in couples therapy.


Family-of-origin Attachment Relationship self-regulation Relationship maintenance Couples therapy 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical standard

The secondary data obtained for analysis in this study was approved through institutional review boards of all authors’ institutions, and that approval included ensuring that participants had received appropriate informed consent. All ethical principles highlighted in the journal’s instructions to authors have been followed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darin J. Knapp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aaron M. Norton
    • 2
  • Jonathan G. Sandberg
    • 3
  1. 1.Marriage and Family Therapy Program, School of Family Studies and Human ServicesKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Texas Woman’s UniversityDentonUSA
  3. 3.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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