Emotion Regulation and Relationship Satisfaction in Clinical Couples


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Virginia Tech


This study explored the relationship between the multidimensional construct of emotion regulation and relationship satisfaction in couples seeking couple or family therapy at an outpatient mental health clinic. Recognizing the necessarily interdependent nature of dyadic data, study data were analyzed via path analysis consistent with the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM; Kenny, Kashy, and Cook, 2006). While overall emotion regulation was not found to be significantly related to relationship satisfaction, results indicated differential effects for the various dimensions of emotion regulation. Perceived access to emotion regulation strategies was significantly positively associated with relationship satisfaction for both men and women. Awareness of emotions was significantly negatively associated with satisfaction for men, with women displaying a trend toward significance, and acceptance of emotions was significantly negatively associated with satisfaction for women, with men displaying a trend toward significance. Women's acceptance of emotions was also significantly negatively associated with her partner's relationship satisfaction, while her ability to control her impulses was significantly positively associated with her partner's satisfaction. No partner effects were found for men's emotion regulation dimensions. Study limitations as well as research and clinical implications are discussed.



emotion regulation, relationship satisfaction, couples