A contextual analysis of the association between demand/withdraw and marital satisfaction

John P. Caughlin, Ted L. Huston

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In spite of research connecting the demand/withdraw pattern of marital interaction to marital dissatisfaction, questions remain about its association with marital satisfaction when it is considered in the context of other interpersonal behaviors. We explore the possibility that the correlation between demand/withdraw and dissatisfaction merely reflects the ubiquitous finding that expressions of negative affect are associated with dissatisfaction. We also examine whether the association between demand/withdraw and satisfaction is less strong when spouses have a highly affectionate marriage. Based on the current investigation, the demand/withdraw pattern of communication appears to be empirically distinguishable from the extent to which partners express negativity in their everyday lives, and it seems to account for variation in marital satisfaction over and above partners' affectionate behaviors and negativity. Moreover, the inverse association between demand/withdraw and marital satisfaction may be less strong when one partner frequently expresses affection in daily life. Together, these results imply potential advantages to further exploring the interdependence among behaviors within marital interaction systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-119
Number of pages25
JournalPersonal Relationships
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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