Marital Processes around Depression: A Gendered and Relational Perspective

TitleMarital Processes around Depression: A Gendered and Relational Perspective
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsThomeer, MBeth, Umberson, D, Pudrovska, T
JournalSociety and Mental Health
KeywordsAdult children, Demographics, Health Conditions and Status

Despite extensive evidence of the importance of marriage and marital processes for mental health, little is known about the interpersonal processes around depression within marriage and the extent to which these processes are gendered. We use a mixed-methods approach to explore the importance of gender in shaping processes around depression within marriage. We approach this in two ways: First, using quantitative longitudinal analysis of 2,601 couples from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we address whether depressive symptoms in one spouse shape the other spouse s depressive symptoms and whether men or women are more influential in this process. We find that a wife s depressive symptoms influence her husband s future depressive symptoms, but a husband s depressive symptoms do not influence his wife s future symptoms. Second, we conduct a qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with 29 couples wherein one or both spouses experienced depression to provide additional insight into how gender impacts depression and reactions to depression within marriage. Our study points to the importance of cultural scripts of masculinity and femininity in shaping depression and emotional processes within marriage and highlights the importance of applying a gendered couple-level approach to better understand the mental health effects of marital processes.

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Citation Key7942