Predicting relationship satisfaction during the transition to parenthood : associations between intimate partner violence, PTS symptoms, and substance misuse




Sotskova, Alina

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Transition to parenthood can be a stressful time for a couple, especially for couples at risk for substance misuse and intimate partner violence. Relationship satisfaction tends to decline in the first year of parenthood as the partners are adjusting to the demands of their new roles as parents. History of trauma and current symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress (PTS) have been associated with decreased intimacy, communication, and relationship adjustment, yet there is a lack of research on how PTS symptoms and trauma history affect parents and families. The current study investigated how PTS symptoms and trauma history affect new parents’ relationship satisfaction in the presence of substance misuse and intimate partner violence. Ninety eight heterosexual couples filled out questionnaires one year after the birth of their first child. Hierarchical multiple regression results indicated that PTS symptoms predicted relationship satisfaction over and above IPV victimization and substance misuse for men. However, for women, psychological IPV victimization was the only significant multivariate predictor for women. Additionally, for men, PTS symptoms interacted with harmful drinking to predict relationship satisfaction. The results suggest that women’s relationship functioning is particularly affected by psychological aggression while men’s relationship functioning is particularly susceptible to effects of harmful drinking and their own PTS symptoms. Implications are discussed.



post-traumatic stress, substance misuse, intimate partner violence, couples, parents, relationship satisfaction