Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Personal Relationships 18 (2011), pp 352–369.


Copyright © 2010 International Association for Relationship Research; published by John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used by permission.


This study tested a series of actor–partner interdependence models of coparental communication, relational satisfaction, and mental health in stepfamilies. Participants included 127 couples (N = 254). Results revealed 2 actor-oriented models whereby parents’ and stepparents’ coparental communication quality positively predicted their own (but not their partners’) satisfaction and mental health. A final model revealed that parents’ relational satisfaction mediated the effect of coparental communication on their own mental health. A similar pattern emerged for stepparents, although coparental communication continued to have a direct, positive effect on stepparents’ mental health. Importantly, parents’ coparental communication produced an inverse partner effect on stepparents’ mental health, highlighting the potential stress stepparents may experience as they are called upon to help raise their spouse’s offspring.