Marital strain and psychological distress : a dyadic and gendered approach
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Marital strain is detrimental to psychological well-being and can have long-term consequences for health. Past research on marital strain and psychological distress has focused on only one spouse’s perception of marital strain and has centered on heterosexual married couples, raising questions over how the relationship between marital strain and psychological distress may differ for men and women in same-sex marriages. In the present study, I analyze dyadic diary data from 756 individuals in 378 gay, lesbian, and heterosexual marriages to consider how marital strain of each spouse influences psychological distress in potentially different ways across gender and union types. Results indicate that both respondent and spouse appraisals of marital strain are associated with increased psychological distress for all respondents. Women married to men are at an increased risk for distress from respondent-reported marital strain while women in same- and different-sex marriages are especially vulnerable to spouse-reported strain. These findings highlight the importance of dyadic data as well as the inclusion of same-sex couples when examining the relationship between gender, marital strain, and psychological distress.