• Kristin L. Croyle, Department of Psychology and Anthropology, University of Texas- Pan American, Edinburg, at the time of the study the first author was at the University of Montana; Jennifer Waltz, Department of Psychology, The University of Montana, Missoula.

concerning this article should be addressed to Jennifer Waltz, Department of Psychology, University of Montana, Missoula, MT, 59812. E-mail: jwaltz@selway.umt.edu.


This study examined the role of emotional awareness in couples' relationships and the effects of a tendency to respond to difficult couples' situations with “soft” emotions (including sadness and fear) versus “hard” emotions (including anger and resentment). Participants were 56 heterosexual couples who completed a measure of relationship satisfaction and two measures of emotional awareness, including one that was developed as part of this study. Results indicated that women were more emotionally aware than men in response to couples' situations, but not in response to general situations outside the relationship. In addition, higher levels of emotional awareness and a higher awareness of “hard” emotions were associated with decreased relationship satisfaction for women, but not for men. Discrepancy between partners' levels of awareness was related to lower satisfaction for both men and women.