Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 77:4 (2009), pp. 680-692; doi: 10.1037/a0015708 Copyright © 2009 American Psychological Association. Used by permission.


Participants included 202 newlywed couples who reported retrospectively about child maltreatment experiences (sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect) and whose marital functioning was assessed 3 times over a 2-year period. Decreased marital satisfaction at T1 was predicted by childhood physical abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect for husbands; only neglect predicted lower satisfaction for wives. Increased maltreatment of various types was also related to T1 difficulties with marital trust and partner aggression. Dyadic growth curve analyses showed that the marital difficulties reported at T1 tended to remain over the course of the study. Further, in several instances, maltreatment exerted an increasingly detrimental influence on marital functioning over time, particularly for husbands. Examination of possible mediators between maltreatment and reductions in marital satisfaction revealed pathways through decreased sexual activity, increased psychological aggression, and increased trauma symptoms reported by husbands. These findings suggest that clinicians should consider how an adult’s history of child maltreatment may contribute to current marital dysfunction. The authors also identify possible targets for intervention when working with this population.