Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Family Communication 10:3 (2010), pp. 174–193.

doi: 10.1080/15267431.2010.489217


Copyright © 2010 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Used by permission.


Narrative theorizing suggests that narrating stress, difficulty, or trauma can be beneficial for improved mental health, yet extant research tends to consider narrating stress as an individual or psychological construct. However, in close relationships, people often experience shared stressors and jointly tell their shared stories of difficulty to others. Thus, joint storytelling processes likely also relate to individual health. We tested this expectation using a series of actor-partner interdependence models and path analyses in a study that included 68 couples’ video-recorded joint storytelling interactions. Findings primarily indicate relationships between husbands’, wives’, and couples’ storytelling behaviors and husbands’ mental health. Generally speaking, however, storytelling behaviors did not predict wives’ mental health. Interpretations, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.