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Keywords:

  • conflict management;
  • domestic violence;
  • physical aggression;
  • relationship stressors

We employed 4,095 couples from both waves of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) to test a model of couple violence drawn from several theoretical perspectives. The outcome distinguishes among nonviolent couples and those experiencing either physical aggression or intense male violence. According to the model, background characteristics of couples are related to relationship stressors, which affect the risk of violence via their tendency to promote verbal conflict. Considerable support for the model was found. Couples were at higher risk for one or both forms of violence if they were younger at union inception, had been together for less time, were both in their first union, had only one partner who was employed, had a nontraditional woman paired with a traditional man, had at least one partner who abused substances, had more children, had more frequent disagreements, exhibited a more hostile disagreement style, or lived in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood. Moreover, the effects of stressors such as the number of children and couples' employment status disparities appear to be mediated by disagreement frequency and disagreement style.