Relational Aggression and Self-Reported Spousal Health: A Longitudinal Analysis


Relational aggression, Longitudinal analysis, Physical health, Covert marital conflict


Previous research indicates that overt marital conflict is a risk factor for poor spousal health. However, there are no studies, to date, that examine the impact of covert conflict on spousal health. Recent research associates relational aggression, a form of covert aggressive behavior, with lower marital quality and stability. Links between relational aggression and health would add to the growing body of literature suggesting that marriage relationships impact health over time. The purpose of this study was to further understand the impact of two dimensions of relational aggression, social sabotage and love withdrawal, among married couples on health. Dyadic data from married couples (n = 331) living in the US were examined over a 5 year period of time using structural equation modeling. Results of the Actor Partner Interdependence Model indicated that wives and husbands who reported experiencing social sabotage at the beginning of the study reported a decrease in health over the 5 years of the study. No actor effects were found for the dimension of love withdrawal. One significant partner effect was found, with wives who reported experiencing love withdrawal from their husbands at the beginning of the study having husbands who experienced a decrease in health over the course of the study.

Original Publication Citation

*Martin, M. P., Miller, R. B., *Kubricht, B., Yorgason, J. B., & Carroll, J. S. (2015). Relational aggression and self-reported spousal health: A longitudinal analysis. Contemporary Family Therapy, 37, 386-395.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Contemporary Family Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor