Physical aggression and marital satisfaction were assessed in 172 newlywed couples annually over the first 4 years of marriage to examine (a) stability of aggression over time and (b) the degree to which fluctuations in aggression precede versus follow fluctuations in marital satisfaction. The stability of aggression varied as a function of initial levels of severity; spouses who were most aggressive early in marriage had greater fluctuations in aggression. Rates of change in aggression predicted changes in satisfaction more than dissatisfaction predicted aggression. Husbands' physical aggression predicted marital discord, whereas wives' aggression predicted marital dissolution. By indicating that aggression (a) is a precursor to adverse marital outcomes and (b) varies across spouses in initial levels and in patterns of temporal change, the present findings highlight the need to understand the contextual factors that govern within-person and within-couple fluctuations in intimate violence.
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