sex, financial stress, financial communication, sexual communication, sexual satisfaction, gender differences


This study longitudinally examined the sexual costs of economic distress in newlywed couple relationships. Family stress theory posits an association between economic pressure and family relationships. The ability of financial strain to contaminate non-financial aspects of a marriage is troubling considering that many newlyweds report difficulty with financial adjustments after marriage. Positive communication may be a skill that enables young couples to alleviate economic pressure, and the study evaluated the moderating roles of financial communication, sexual communication, and relational communication. Utilizing an actor-partner interdependence moderation model, hypotheses were tested using dyadic data from 2044 couples from a nationally representative sample of newlywed couples in 2017–2018 in the United States. We found that economic pressure of both partners negatively associated with their own contemporaneous sexual satisfaction, but not their partner’s. In addition, we found weak links over time for wives only. Financial communication attenuated the negative effects when husbands and wives experienced economic pressure. Financial communication by a partner protected against negative sexual consequences for wives when that partner experienced economic pressure. Additionally, strong financial communication by wives protected wives from negative sexual consequences of their husbands’ economic pressure. The findings align with family stress theory; specifically, communication may be a resource that helps couples adapt to negative financial stress.

Original Publication Citation

Wikle, J.S., Leavitt, C.E., Yorgason, J.B. et al. The Protective Role of Couple Communication in Moderating Negative Associations Between Financial Stress and Sexual Outcomes for Newlyweds. Journal of Family Economic Issues (2020).

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Family and Economic Issues




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor