Marital Satisfaction and Maternal Emotional Expressiveness: Links with Children's Sibling Relationships


  • This research was conducted when the first author was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, #2F32MH10023. Requests for reprints may be sent to the first author at: Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA. The authors would like to thank Susan Harter and German Posada for helpful suggestions on an earlier draft of this paper.


Associations between marital quality, maternal emotional expressiveness and children's sibling relationships were examined in a sample of 64 seven-year-olds and their mothers. Mothers reported on the quality of their marital relationships, and children rated the quality of their sibling relationships. Mothers and children provided data on maternal emotional expressiveness. Results indicated that marital dissatisfaction was associated with hostile and rivalrous sibling relationships and with maternal negative emotional expressiveness. Mothers' negative emotional expressiveness was correlated with hostile and rivalrous sibling relationships, and maternal positive emotional expressiveness was associated with affectionate sibling relationships. Maternal emotional expressiveness mediated the links between the marital relationship and sibling hostility and rivalry.