We examined 31 older couples’ wife demand/husband withdraw communication patterns and cortisol responses to marital conflict. Regression analyses indicated that wife demand/husband withdraw sequences during conflict related to cortisol responses only for wives. Based on a mixed model that accounted for the interdependence of spouses’ perceptions of communication patterns and outcomes, older spouses who reported greater wife demand/husband withdraw patterns in their marriage had greater cortisol responses during a conflict discussion; actual demand-withdraw did not relate to cortisol responses in this model. Findings suggest that perceived communication patterns contribute to neuroendocrine responses to marital conflict, and implications for marriage and health research with older couples are discussed.
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Work on this article was supported in part by NIH Grant P50 DE13749, NIA Program Project Grant AG16321, NIH General Clinical Research Center Grant M01-RR-0034, NIH Independent Scientist Award MH01467, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Core Grant CA-16058-09, and NIH Psychoneuroimmunology Training Grant MH18831.
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Heffner, K.L., Loving, T.J., Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K. et al. Older Spouses’ Cortisol Responses to Marital Conflict: Associations With Demand/Withdraw Communication Patterns. J Behav Med 29, 317 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-006-9058-3
- older couples
- marital conflict