Unexpected Gender Moderation of Marital Satisfaction–Health Associations in Long-Distance Relationships

Steve N. Du Bois*, Wren Yoder, Stephen D. Ramos, Karolina Grotkowski, Tamara Goldman Sher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


High marital satisfaction is associated with better individual health and health behavior. Gender moderates these associations; generally, they are stronger for women than for men. Theories such as subordination-reactivity attempt to explain marital satisfaction–health associations by gender. Extant research exploring this phenomenon focuses on individuals in proximal relationships, not those in long-distance relationships (LDR). LDR are prevalent, particularly among students, military personnel, and caregivers. They are also increasing both in number and cultural relevance. Current study participants (N = 93) were ages 21+, married for 6+ months, and LDR, defined as living more than 50 miles apart and not able to see each other daily. Participants completed an online survey of relationship and health measures. We tested gender as a moderator of marital satisfaction–health associations. Unexpectedly, higher marital satisfaction related to better health for men more than for women on several health variables. Specifically, higher marital satisfaction related to significantly less drug use and less pain interference, and marginally better overall health, for men more than for women. No other marital satisfaction–health associations emerged. These results suggest marital satisfaction may be more important to health for LDR men than women, and in some cases, marital satisfaction may not relate to health for LDR individuals. Future research can explore these unique satisfaction–health associations in LDR. Therapeutic interventions for individuals and couples in LDR can consider these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
JournalFamily Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • gender
  • health
  • long-distance relationships
  • marital satisfaction
  • pain
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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