Desired change in couples: gender differences and effects on communication.

Richard E. Heyman, Ashley N. Hunt-Martorano, Jill Malik, Amy M.Smith Slep

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a sample (N = 453) drawn from a representative sampling frame of couples who are married or living together and have a 3 to 7 year-old child, this study investigates (a) the amount and specific areas of change desired by men and women, (b) the relation between relationship adjustment and desired change; and (c) the ways in which partners negotiate change. On the Areas of Change Questionnaire, women compared with men, wanted greater increases in their partners' emotional and companionate behaviors, instrumental support, and parenting involvement; men wanted greater increases in sex. Using the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (Kenny, 1996), both men's and women's relationship adjustment predicted desired change (i.e., actor effects), over and above the effects of their partners' adjustment (i.e., partner effects); partner effects were not significant. Each couple was also observed discussing the man's and the woman's top desired change area. Both men and women behaved more positively during the partner-initiated conversations than during their own-initiated conversations. Women, compared with men, were more negative in their own and in their partners' conversations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-484
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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