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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Correlates and consequences of relationship-focused coping : a within-couples examination O'Brien, Teresa Bird

Abstract

The primary objective of the study was to increase understanding of interpersonal dimensions of stress and coping within married couples. Using a diary methodology and a matched-pair hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) analysis strategy, the study examined how stress and coping processes unfold over the course of a given day and across days within couples. The study investigated within-couple variation in daily stress, coping, coping efficacy, mood, and marital tension. Special emphasis was given to the examination of the correlates and consequences of empathic responding, a form of relationship focused coping. The results suggest that when relational outcomes are considered, empathic responding may represent an adaptive way of coping with everyday stress occurring within intimate contexts. Moreover, the study indicates that when greater personal significance is attached to a family stressor, husbands and wives tend to increase their use of empathic responding. The findings suggest that the examination of relationship-focused coping may add to the theoretical and explanatory power of current models of stress and coping. Also considered were the contextual effects of marital adjustment on how family stressors are experienced and managed by couples. The results document a link between marital adjustment and the use of empathic responding for both husbands and wives within couples. Further, the study suggests that marital adjustment plays an important role in determining whether the negative effects of stress will persist across days.

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