Depression in Marriage
Heather A. O'Mahen
Steven R. H. Beach
Sammy F. Banawan University of Georgia
The close relationships of depressed persons are particularly likely to be disrupted, and depressed persons often are acutely aware of the impact of relationship difficulties on their moods. Indeed, the idea that threats to one's sense of belongingness in close relationships could result in increased negative behavior and affect has a certain intuitive appeal. As noted by Berscheid (1983), it is hard to imagine the quality of close relationships not being related to one's level of suffering and happiness. In the current chapter, we focus on the link between marital discord and depression because marital relationships provide a context in which the link between relationship difficulty and mood can be readily examined. We highlight issues concerning direction of causality, specific interpersonal processes that might be particularly consequential, and an intermediate-level theory that helps organize much of the theoretical and empirical literature—stress generation theory (Hammen; 1991). Finally, we turn to goal theory as a broader theoretical framework that may help further integrate the literature on close relationships and depression, and we suggest new directions for investigation.
BETWEEN MARITAL DISCORD AND DEPRESSION
A strong association between depression and relationship disturbance has been noted in a number of different relationship literatures. However, the reasons provided for the association have varied. Accordingly, it is infor-