Associations Between Marital Discord and Depressive Symptoms: A Cross-Cultural Analysis

Julia M. Salinger, Mark A. Whisman, Ashley K. Randall, Peter Hilpert

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Scopus citations


    The objectives of this study were to investigate actor and partner effects of the association between marital discord and depressive symptoms in a sample of 4,779 couples from 11 European countries that were divided into three groups (i.e., Northern, Central, Southern Europe), and evaluate the potential gender and cross-cultural invariance of this association. Actor–partner interdependence models were used to analyze the cross-sectional associations between self-reported perceived marital conflict and depressive symptoms. Marital conflict was significantly and positively associated with self-reported depressive symptoms for husbands and wives (actor effects), as well as with partner-reported depressive symptoms (partner effects). Pooling across cultural groups, no significant difference in the magnitude of actor or partner effects based on gender was found. The magnitude of the actor effects varied across cultural groupings only for women: a significantly weaker association existed for women residing in Northern Europe relative to women in Central or Southern Europe. These results suggest that marital discord is a reliable correlate of depressive symptoms for European couples and that the magnitude of the positive association varies by culture for women. Should these results be replicated longitudinally, couple-based interventions may be indicated to reduce marital discord and prevent and treat depression in Europe.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)493-506
    Number of pages14
    JournalFamily Process
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jun 2021


    • Cross-cultural
    • Cross-national
    • Depression
    • Marital Discord
    • Marital Satisfaction
    • Marriage

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Clinical Psychology
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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