Marital discord is common among depressed patients. To explain the concurrence of depression and marital discord, it was hypothesized that depressed patients and their spouses have weak relationship-coping abilities, specifically communication, problem solving, and capacity for intimacy. Seventeen depressed patients and their spouses were compared with 17 control couples on a communication task, an intimacy interview, and self-reports of marital satisfaction. Results indicated that, compared with control subjects, the depressed patients and their spouses (a) reported greater marital dissatisfaction, (b) demonstrated poorer communication and problem-solving ability, and (c) were more likely to have an impaired capacity for establishing and maintaining intimacy. The implications for understanding the development of depression and marital discord are discussed.
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