Couple communication patterns of maritally aggressive and nonaggressive male alcoholics.J Stud Alcohol. 1997 Jan; 58(1):83-90.JS
This study was conducted to examine the associations between communication problems and marital violence in couples with a male alcoholic, and to determine whether the communication correlates of marital violence found in nonalcoholic community samples also characterize male alcoholics' relationships.
Ninety newly abstinent treatment-seeking male alcoholics and their wives completed a 10-minute problem discussion while both partners were sober. Their communication behaviors were coded with the Marital Interaction Coding system. Couples were separated into maritally aggressive (n = 60 couples) and nonaggressive (n = 30 couples) groups on the basis of any husband-to-wife physical aggression in the previous 12 months.
The base-rate percentage of aversive-defensive communication was significantly higher for couples with a physically aggressive husband than for couples with a nonaggressive husband. The base-rate percentage of facilitative-enhancing communication did not differ significantly between groups. In sequential analyses, physically aggressive husbands, but not their wives, displayed more negative reciprocity than their nonaggressive counterparts. Alcoholic husbands in general displayed lower rates of facilitative-enhancing communication than did their wives.
Husband-to-wife marital aggression was associated with problematic communication among couples with an alcoholic husband during a sober interaction in a laboratory setting, extending prior nonalcoholic community sample research to male alcoholics' relationships. The maritally aggressive alcoholics were high in negative responses contingent upon their wives' prior negative behavior, and were unlikely to terminate aversive interchanges. Communication problems may be important in understanding and treating co-occurring alcoholism and marital violence.