Fire and Ice in Marital Communication: Hostile and Distancing Behaviors as Predictors of Marital Distress



This study examined the relationship between partner hostile responsiveness, as well as three types of withdrawing responses (intimacy avoidance, conflict avoidance and angry withdrawal) and both concurrent and prospective marital satisfaction in a community sample of couples. The primary predictor of marital outcomes for wives was partner hostile responsiveness, whereas for husbands it was partner withdrawal. Wives' intimacy avoidance contributed unique variance to the prediction of husbands' marital distress; husbands' conflict avoidance provided a buffering effect for wives in the context of high husband hostile responsiveness. Results underscore the importance of differentiating hostile and distancing behaviors and, further, assessing withdrawal outside of the context of marital conflict.