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Relationship Quality and Depressed Affect Among a Diverse Sample of Relationally Unstable Relationship Education Participants

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Abstract

The association between depression and marital satisfaction has been clearly documented. Theoretical approaches describe the direction of effects as depression leading to marital dissatisfaction (stress generation model) and, alternately, marital dissatisfaction leading to depression (marital discord model). Clinical research indicates that treating the relationship of unstable couples can result in improvements in relationship satisfaction and depression. However, many unstable couples may not attend therapy and choose rather to attend Couple and Relationship Education (CRE). Using 250 ethnically diverse couples in community CRE classes, the authors found that relationally unstable participants of CRE report improvements in depressed affect and relationship quality after program participation. Additionally, decreased depressed affect predicted increased relationship quality, not vice versa, and there were no differences by sex. The authors note the potential value of CRE for unstable couples and recommend that interventionists utilize an inclusive approach, devoting attention to the couple relationship as well as individual distress variables.

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