Relational Aggression in Marriage


relational aggression, marriage, couple conflict, marital aggression, intimate partner violence


Drawing from developmental theories of relational aggression, this article reports on a study designed to identify if spouses use relationally aggressive tactics when dealing with conflict in their marriage and the association of these behaviors with marital outcomes. Using a sample of 336 married couples (672 spouses), results revealed that the majority of couples reported that relationally aggressive behaviors, such as social sabotage and love withdrawal, were a part of their marital dynamics, at least to some degree. Gender comparisons of partner reports of their spouse's behavior revealed that wives were significantly more likely to be relationally aggressive than husbands. Structural equation modeling demonstrated that relational aggression is associated with lower levels of marital quality and greater marital instability for both husbands and wives. Implications are drawn for the use of relational aggression theory in the future study of couple conflict and marital aggression Aggr. Behav. 36:315–329, 2010. © 2010 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original Publication Citation

Carroll, J. S., Nelson, D., Yorgason, J. B., Harper, J. M., Hagmann, R., & Jensen, A. C. (2010). Relational aggression in marriage. Aggressive Behavior, 36, 315-329. doi:10.1002/ab.20349

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Aggressive Behavior




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor