Effects of physical and verbal aggression, depression, and anxiety on drinking behavior of married partners: a prospective and retrospective longitudinal examination



In an ethnically diverse sample of 195 married couples, we conducted a latent factor growth analysis to investigate the longitudinal link (4 time points over 4½ years) between marital aggression (physical and verbal aggression self- and partner-reports) and individual internalizing symptoms (depression and anxiety) as they relate to trajectories of alcohol use among husbands and wives. Alcohol use was operationalized as a latent factor with self- and partner reports of problem drinking as measured by the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test and the Alcohol Dependence Scale. Verbal aggression by husbands or wives, by itself, has no effect on their alcohol use over time. In conjunction with depression, however, verbally aggressive husbands do have elevated drinking levels. The effects of husbands' and wives' physical aggression on their own and their partners' drinking behavior were also significant. This study is one of the first to examine the change over time in alcohol use for marital partners as related to marital aggression and internalizing symptoms. Our results shed light on areas of marital functioning (aggression, internalizing, alcohol use) that have not been investigated in conjunction with each other in a longitudinal design. Aggr. Behav. 35:296–312, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.