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Regulation strategies mediate associations between heavy drinking and relationship outcomes in married couples.

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Lindsey M. Rodriguez

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Heavy drinking patterns during marriage can be problematic for both spouses and the relationship. Moreover, spouses use different strategies in an attempt to change their partner's drinking behavior, which can impact the relationship in different ways. The current research examined whether associations between heavy drinking and marital adjustment are mediated by partner regulation strategies (i.e., punishment and reward). Married couples (N = 123 dyads) with at least one spouse who consumed alcohol regularly and at least one undergraduate spouse completed web-based assessments at baseline and three and six months later. Mediation hypotheses were tested using a repeated-measures version of the Actor–Partner Interdependence Model. As predicted, a significant partner effect emerged suggesting that heavy drinking was associated with greater use of punishment strategies, which were in turn associated with diminished satisfaction. Another significant partner effect revealed that heavy drinking also predicted greater use of reward strategies, which were positively associated with satisfaction. However, the magnitude of the indirect effects via punishment was more than twice as large as the mediated effect via reward. Results underscore the importance of an interdependent, dyadic perspective in understanding associations between heavy drinking and marital outcomes as well as differences between punishing and rewarding regulation strategies in these associations.


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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.