Female-demand/male-withdraw communication in Argentinian couples: A mediating factor between economic strain and relationship distress

Authors

  • MARIANA K. FALCONIER,

    Corresponding author
    1. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
      Mariana K. Falconier, Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Department of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 7054 Haycock Rd. Suite 202C, Falls Church, VA 22043, e-mail: marianak@vt.edu.
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    • Mariana K. Falconier, Department of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Norman B. Epstein, Department of Family Science, University of Maryland, College Park.

  • NORMAN B. EPSTEIN

    1. University of Maryland, College Park
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    • Mariana K. Falconier, Department of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Norman B. Epstein, Department of Family Science, University of Maryland, College Park.


Mariana K. Falconier, Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Department of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 7054 Haycock Rd. Suite 202C, Falls Church, VA 22043, e-mail: marianak@vt.edu.

Abstract

Based on a dyadic version of R. D. Conger and colleagues' stress model, this study examined whether the demand/withdraw pattern in couples' communication mediates the association between partners' economic strain and their level of relationship distress. Data were from self-report questionnaires completed by 144 heterosexual couples seeking psychotherapy at a community clinic in Argentina 3 years after a major national economic crisis. As hypothesized, results from a path model analysis suggested that (a) regardless of provider role, females tended to experience more economic strain than males did; (b) the female-demand/male-withdraw pattern, but not the male-demand/female-withdraw pattern, mediated the positive association between economic strain and relationship distress; and (c) both partners' levels of relationship distress were affected by both patterns of demand/withdraw communication. Gender differences are discussed based on the gender role expectations in Argentina and the stress coping and demand/withdraw communication literatures. Study limitations and implications of the findings for research, programmatic approaches, and therapeutic interventions for couples under economic stress are considered. This study makes important contributions to our understanding of gender differences and the role of demand/withdraw communication in couples' responses to economic strain.

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