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Keywords:

  • growth curves;
  • hostility;
  • life stress;
  • marital quality;
  • support

This article examines differences in the role of spouses' hostile and supportive behaviors in predicting level and change in marital satisfaction and marital instability. We propose 2 competing hypotheses. The first hypothesis proposes that hostility is relatively volatile and support is relatively stable, and that change in hostility affects change in marital outcomes over the course of the study, whereas the overall level of support functions to maintain the level of marital outcomes. The second hypothesis argues that change in marital satisfaction is a function of change in support, whereas change in marital instability is a function of change in hostility. We tested the hypotheses by fitting growth curves to 3 waves of panel data collected from 436 Czech couples between 1994 and 1996. The results offer some support for the first hypothesis. However, the dominant pattern was for level and change in spouses' reports of their hostility to affect both wives' and husbands' level and change in marital instability, respectively, and for the level and change in husbands' reports of their support to predict level and change in wives' marital satisfaction. Other variables suggested by previous research in the United States and by the Czech transition to a market economy are examined.