This study explored differences in communication and perception of communication among 3 types of married couples: maritally distressed couples, in which the wife was depressed; maritally distressed-only couples; and nondistressed-nondepressed couples. Findings revealed differences both in the patterns of communication and in the meanings these patterns have for the relationship. The results suggested that depression within the context of a distressed marriage is related to (a) more negative communication both toward and from the depressed person and (b) spouses' lower comprehension of each other's messages. Among the nondistressed couples, the more negative their communication, the more maritally satisfied they were. The suggestion is made that "negative communication" might be used in a constructive way by nondistressed couples, whereas negative communication might be detrimental to distressed couples.
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