A study of 1,532 older married persons in the US examined the relationships between emotional dimensions of marriage and aspects of personal functioning.
The study found that high levels of marital closeness were associated with low levels of depression and anxiety and high levels of self-esteem in partners. Marital closeness appeared to buffer the effects of stress and moderated their impact on depression, anxiety, and self-esteem.
PREPARE/ENRICH reports include information about couples’ perceptions of their closeness or their couple cohesion. It is reassuring to see further evidence of the helpful nature of high closeness, as distinct from disengagement.
It is important to note that high closeness in this study should not to be equated with extreme enmeshment as assessed by the PREPARE/ENRICH inventories, since high closeness in the study equates more with balanced cohesion.
It should also be noted that in younger, childless couples, very high levels of closeness (even approaching the unbalanced region of the Couple Map) might still be associated with positive effects. As couples move on in the life cycle, the benefits of balance between high closeness (rather than enmeshment) and separateness become more significant.
Reference: Mancini, A & Bonanno, G., Marital Closeness, Functional Disability, and Adjustment in Late Life. Psychology and Aging, 2006, 21, (3), 600-610.
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