Child Maltreatment History Among Newlywed Couples: A Longitudinal Study of Marital Outcomes and Mediating Pathways

David DiLillo, James Peugh, Kate Walsh, Jillian Panuzio, Emily Trask, Sarah Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Participants included 202 newlywed couples who reported retrospectively about child maltreatment experiences (sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect) and whose marital functioning was assessed 3 times over a 2-year period. Decreased marital satisfaction at T1 was predicted by childhood physical abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect for husbands; only neglect predicted lower satisfaction for wives. Increased maltreatment of various types was also related to T1 difficulties with marital trust and partner aggression. Dyadic growth curve analyses showed that the marital difficulties reported at T1 tended to remain over the course of the study. Further, in several instances, maltreatment exerted an increasingly detrimental influence on marital functioning over time, particularly for husbands. Examination of possible mediators between maltreatment and reductions in marital satisfaction revealed pathways through decreased sexual activity, increased psychological aggression, and increased trauma symptoms reported by husbands. These findings suggest that clinicians should consider how an adult's history of child maltreatment may contribute to current marital dysfunction. The authors also identify possible targets for intervention when working with this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)680-692
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • child maltreatment
  • marital satisfaction
  • partner aggression
  • sexual functioning
  • trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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