Marital interactions of male versus female alcoholics.Fam Process. 1997 Dec; 36(4):385-402.FP
This study assessed the interactions of 131 alcoholic and nonalcoholic couples as they engaged in discussions of personally relevant problems. For 50 couples, the husband was alcoholic; for 15 couples, the wife was alcoholic; for 16 couples, both spouses were alcoholics; and for 50 couples, neither spouse was alcoholic. Observations were conducted during sessions when alcohol was consumed and in nondrinking sessions. Female alcoholic couples (with nonalcoholic spouses) demonstrated high negativity in the "no-drink" session, which was normalized in the drink session, suggesting an adaptive function to alcohol use. Concordant couples (both members were alcoholic) also demonstrated high negativity in the no-drink session, but exhibited increased negativity in the drink session, suggesting that concordance has a maladaptive impact on marital interaction. All alcoholic groups demonstrated greater negativity and lower positivity and congeniality in their marital interactions compared to nonalcoholic couples. Couples with male alcoholics were the least divergent from normal control couples. Unique female patterns in alcoholism are discussed in terms of adaptive and reinforcing patterns and spousal influences.