This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

What is Good Spousal Support? Examining Support Delivery and Outcomes




Jensen, Jakob

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


Support from others is critical to both mental and physical health, and for married individuals, the spouse is the most important support provider. Although spousal support is known to be important, researchers have yet to come to a consensus concerning what actually constitutes good spousal support. The present study sought to understand the components of good spousal support and the context in which that support occurred. The study also examined the link between good spousal support and marital quality. Finally, the study identified who actually provided good support and the role that perspective taking played in spousal support provision. Participants included 57 happily married couples with two young children. Self-reports of perspective taking, marital quality, and support satisfaction were measured. Additionally, each couple completed a 20-minute marital support task that was coded on seven support behaviors of interest. Regression analyses revealed that the more sensitive the support provided by husbands, the more that both wives and husbands reported being satisfied with their spouses’ support provision. Further, husbands’ reported levels of marital quality were highly associated with their own supportive behaviors. Husbands reported more love and maintenance, and less ambivalence when they were sensitive in their support provision. Moreover, when wives were satisfied with husbands’ support, husbands reported more marital quality. Implications of these findings and suggestions for future studies are discussed.