Demand-withdraw, couple satisfaction and relationship duration

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The demand-withdraw interaction pattern is a pattern of conflict in which one spouse pressures or blames while the other avoids or withdraws. Research has consistently shown that demand-withdraw behaviors are associated with couple dissatisfaction. However, longitudinal associations between the two constructs are less robust. Moreover, existing research has been overwhelmingly conducted with relatively young couples, overlooking the differences that may exist between young and well-established marriages. The present study examined concurrent and longitudinal association between demand-withdraw pattern and couple dissatisfaction in a sample of 176 couples with a wide range of relationship duration (1 to 55 years). Couples provided data on two occasions (4-month interval). Cross-lagged panel models were used to examine: a) associations between couple dissatisfaction and demand-withdraw, specifically testing for the direction of effects b) whether these relations were moderated by relationship duration (four groups were formed based on relationship length: young; stable young; stable mature; old). Results demonstrated that: a) the demand-withdraw pattern and couple dissatisfaction were associated both concurrently and longitudinally and couple dissatisfaction was a predictor of the demand-withdraw pattern for all participants, with the only exception of the young women group; b) relationship duration moderated the association between demand-withdraw and dissatisfaction only for women. Findings suggest that demand-withdraw may have the role of “detector” of couple distress, especially in older couples. Moreover, the moderating role of relationship duration suggests that different couples may enact demand-withdraw in different ways.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)200-206
Numero di pagine7
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2014


  • Demand-withdraw
  • couple satisfaction
  • longitudinal data
  • relationship duration


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