The role of mindfulness in romantic relationship satisfaction and responses to relationship stress

Authors


  • Sean Barnes, BA, is now in the Department of Psychology, The State University of New York, Binghamton; Kirk Warren Brown, PhD, is now in the Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University; Elizabeth Krusemark, BS, and W. Keith Campbell, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia; Ronald D. Rogge, PhD, Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester.

  • Portions of this research were presented at the 38th Annual Convention of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 2004. This research was supported by a Barth-Crapsey grant for undergraduate research to the first author and through donations from Rochester, New York, area businesses (The Distillery, Pellegrino’s Deli Cafe, Atomic Eggplant, Don Pablo’s Mexican Kitchen, Red Lobster, and Arthur Murray Dance Studios). We gratefully acknowledge the research assistance of Ellen Porter, Matt Della Porta, Jordan Silberman, Desleigh Gilbert, and Sara Gilbert.

Address correspondence to Kirk Warren Brown, PhD, Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, 806 W. Franklin St., Richmond, Virginia 23284-2018; E-mail: kwbrown@vcu.edu

Abstract

Two studies examined the role of mindfulness in romantic relationship satisfaction and in responses to relationship stress. Using a longitudinal design, Study 1 found that higher trait mindfulness predicted higher relationship satisfaction and greater capacities to respond constructively to relationship stress. Study 2 replicated and extended these findings. Mindfulness was again shown to relate to relationship satisfaction; then, using a conflict discussion paradigm, trait mindfulness was found to predict lower emotional stress responses and positive pre- and postconflict change in perception of the relationship. State mindfulness was related to better communication quality during the discussion. Both studies indicated that mindfulness may play an influential role in romantic relationship well-being. Discussion highlights future research directions for this new area of inquiry.

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