Many individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) do not respond well to currently available treatments. Moreover, treatments are less effective when GAD is accompanied by romantic relationship distress. In order to develop effective treatments for GAD and relationship distress, it is necessary to conduct theory-based research to identify links common to both GAD and romantic relationship distress. Drawing on Bowen's family systems theory, the roles of family abuse/violence and differentiation in GAD and romantic relationship distress were examined using existing data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (n = 2,312; 2005). As predicted, family abuse/violence was directly linked to both GAD and romantic relationship distress. Differentiation mediated the relationship between family abuse/violence and GAD, and partially mediated the relationship between family abuse/violence and romantic relationship distress. Findings suggest that current and past relationship processes may help maintain chronic anxiety and that Bowen's theory may be a useful framework for developing couple therapy treatment of GAD and romantic relationship distress.