Discrepant Dyadic Alcohol Use in the Development of Relationship Dissatisfaction: The Mediating Role of Alcohol-Specific Conflict
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Extant research demonstrates a link between intimate partners’ discrepant alcohol consumption and declines in relationship satisfaction, as well as higher rates of relationship dissolution (e.g., Homish & Leonard, 2007; Homish & Leonard, 2005; Ostermann, Sloan, & Taylor, 2005). However, less is known about the mechanisms by which this association occurs. The following study examines alcohol-specific relationship conflict as a potential mediator between discrepant drinking patterns and relationship dissatisfaction using a sample of men seeking treatment for alcohol use disorders and their female partners. Multilevel Modeling (MLM) is utilized within the framework of the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM; Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006) to examine the role of alcohol-specific conflict in change in relationship satisfaction across partners over time. Findings revealed that baseline discordant drinking predicted increased baseline conflict about men’s, but not women’s, use of alcohol. Conflict specific to men’s use of alcohol predicted decreased satisfaction for both men and women at baseline – but did not affect satisfaction longitudinally. Alcohol-specific conflict mediated the association between discordant drinking and relationship dissatisfaction for men, but not for women.