The current study investigates the correlates of partner-directed relational aggression in married couples. In particular, this study looks at the connection between romantic relational aggression and the personal outcome of depression. Both the experience of victimization and perpetration of romantic relational aggression are considered. Victimization may be linked to depression through the concept of the “looking glass self” and reflected appraisals. Aggression, in contrast, may be linked to depression through dissatisfaction with one’s own aggressive tendencies in the relationship and a lack of “relational self-esteem”. Couples who completed the RELATE assessment were asked to report on their partner’s engagement in relationally aggressive strategies (both the love withdrawal and social sabotage subtypes) toward them. These scores were then used to predict self-reports of depression of both spouses. Bivariate correlations showed, with only one exception, that all aggression strategies were modestly yet significantly correlated with depression for aggressors and victims. In the SEM structural model, controlling for covariates, female love withdrawal was found to significantly predict male depression and male love withdrawal marginally predicted male depression. In this respect, victimization showed a stronger link to depression than aggression. There was no difference between social sabotage and love withdrawal in their predictive value. Women were found to report more aggression (of both subtypes) and depression. Clinical implications are discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Marriage, Family, and Human Development



Date Submitted


Document Type





relational victimization, relational aggression, depression, marriage