Feeling controlled in marriage: A phenomenon specific to physically aggressive couples?

Miriam K. Ehrensaft, Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Richard E. Heyman, K. Daniel O'Leary, Erika Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spouses in maritally happy nonaggressive (H; n = 21), distressed nonaggressive (DNA; n = 16), and distressed aggressive (DA; n = 20) marriages were interviewed about their perceptions of their spouse as controlling. Four areas of spousal control were assesed: involvement in decision making, relationships with family and friends, freedom to plan activities independently, and sense of competence and self-respect. Overall, as expected, spouses in happy marriages reported feeling less controlled than spouses in the 2 distressed groups. Few gender differences were obtained, with the exception that wives in aggressive marriages were more likely to report that their husbands controlled their sense of competence and self-respect. Differences between the DA and DNA groups depended on the specific area of control. Wives in the aggressive couples were significantly more likely than their husbands to state that their spouse's aggression was an attempt to control them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-32
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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