Coping Mediates the Association Between Marital Instability and Depression, but Not Marital Satisfaction and Depression.
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The association between marital discord and depression is well established. Marital discord is hypothesized to be a stressful life event that would evoke one's efforts to cope with it. In an effort to further understand the nature of this association, the current study investigated coping as a mediating variable between marital dissatisfaction and depression and between marital instability and depression. Both marital dissatisfaction and instability, reflecting orthogonal dimensions of marital discord, were included in the model examined to elucidate a more complete picture of marital functioning. Structural Equation Modeling analyses revealed that coping mediated the association between marital instability and depression, but not marital dissatisfaction and depression, suggesting that coping traditionally considered adaptive for individuals in the context of controllable stressors may not be adaptive in the context of couple relationship instability. The findings also have implications for interventions focusing on decreasing maladaptive coping strategies in couples presenting for marital therapy or depression in addition to efforts directed at improving marital quality.