Premenstrual syndrome and marital satisfaction

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Clinical interest in PMS has existed for more than one and a half centuries. There is still no consensus about its frequency, seriousness, etiology or treatment. Its impact on marital relationships has not been an area of research interest, even though one woman in twenty, or even one every ten, may be so afflicted that her life is disrupted premenstrually month after month.

This study was designed to explore this research area through the use of prospective self-reporting measuring instruments completed on a daily basis by both husband and wife in six couples over a time period of one complete menstrual cycle.

The husband's perception of his wife's negative affect was one independent variable. The wife's perception of her own negative affect was the other.

Six dependent variables were measured: The husband's and wife's self rating of own marital satisfaction; the husband's and the wife's perceptions of the spouse's displeasing behaviors; and the husband's and the wife's perceptions of the spouse's pleasing behaviors.

A case study approach was used and, in addition to time series analysis of the daily ratings, a semi-structured exit interview was conducted with each couple so that anecdotal material could be compared and evaluated along with the quantifiable data.

Because of the nature of the study, self-definition and diagnosis of PMS was chosen as the admission criterion. In addition, the wife could not be using oral contraceptives, nor could she be taking over-the-counter or prescribed medication for her PMS.

Decreases in the husband's marital satisfaction were found to be associated with increases in his perception of his wife's negative affect in five of the six cases. In four of the six cases, the husband perceived an increase in displeasing behaviors by his wife when he perceived an increase in her symptoms.