Couple’s Relationship With Diabetes: Means and Meanings for Management Success


  • Ruth A. Houston-Barrett, PhD, School of Behavioral Health, Loma Linda University; Colwick M. Wilson, PhD, The University of Michigan, School of Nursing.

  • The first author would like to acknowledge Professor Carmen Knudson-Martin, LMFT, Director of the Doctoral Program in Marital & Family Therapy, Loma Linda University for her invaluable assistance with the early development of theory in this paper.

Address correspondence to Ruth A. Houston-Barrett, School of Behavioral Health, Loma Linda University, 11226 Campus Street, Loma Linda, CA 92350; E-mail:


Diabetes is a serious chronic illness that involves individuals, couples, and families in complex reciprocal interactions with the illness and other life dimensions. A major issue in diabetes management is how well the patient is able to follow the established medical regimen of selfcare. Situated within personal, physical, and social contexts, the meaning that a couple creates and the emotions they feel in their adaptation to living with diabetes and its demanding regimen can be viewed as the couple’s relationship with diabetes.