Predicting Partner Enhancement in Marital Relationships: The Family of Origin, Attachment, and Social Network Approval


partner enhancement, marriage, attachment


Partner enhancement is an important relational process that has been linked to better relationship outcomes in existing research. However, little is known about variables that might be associated with the practice of partner enhancement. In this study, we utilized an ecosystemic model with a sample of 1,432 couples and an actor/partner interdependence model to explore whether the family of origin, attachment avoidance and anxiety, and social network approval predicted partner enhancement scores. The results indicated that the family of origin was only indirectly associated with partner enhancement through attachment and social network approval. The best predictors of partner enhancement were attachment avoidance and social network approval. Higher scores on actor attachment avoidance were related to higher scores on partner enhancement contrary to expectations. Curiously, partner effects for attachment avoidance were the opposite in that higher scores were associated with lower levels of partner enhancement. Attachment anxiety was associated with lower scores on partner enhancement for both actor and partner effects, and social network approval was associated with higher scores on partner enhancement.

Original Publication Citation

Busby, D. M., Boden, J., Neihuis, S., Fitzpatrick, & J., Reifman, A. (2017). Predicting partner enhancement in marital relationships: The family of origin, attachment, and social network approval. Family Issues, 38, 2178-2199.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Family Issues




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor