Ending the silo effect: A test of the relational domain spillover model

Atina Manvelian*, Hayley Fivecoat, Anne Milek, Erika Lawrence

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Couple interventions are limited in their effectiveness for reducing marital distress and dissolution. One explanation for this may be the narrow focus on conflict management and a limited understanding of how other domains in marriage influence one another over time. We present the first test of the relational domain spillover model (RDSM) to understand the extent to which poor functioning in either positive or negative areas of the relationship spill over into other aspects of relationship functioning across time. Husbands and wives reported annually on the quality of five relationship domains (emotional intimacy, sex, support, power/control, and conflict) over the first seven years of marriage. Longitudinal dyadic multilevel modeling techniques were used to examine how domains change over time and how earlier declines in positive areas of couple functioning predict later problems in negative areas of couple functioning and vice versa. We found support for both directions of the RDSM model. Earlier declines in sexuality and support predicted later declines in conflict, and, for wives, earlier declines in couple sexuality were linked to later control issues. Earlier declines in conflict communication and control predicted later problems with emotional intimacy. For men, longitudinal associations between sexuality and conflict, and control, were bidirectional. These findings point to the need to move toward a multi-dimensional, dynamic conceptualization of relationship functioning across time and the importance of focusing on different relational domains as targets for couple interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFamily process
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • conflict
  • control
  • intimacy
  • marriage
  • sex
  • support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Ending the silo effect: A test of the relational domain spillover model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this