The current study evaluated the associations between externalizing psychopathology and marital adjustment in a combined sample of 1,805 married couples. We further considered the role of personality in these associations, as personality has been found to predict both the development of externalizing psychopathology as well as marital distress and instability. Diagnostic interviews assessed conduct disorder, adult symptoms of antisocial personality disorder, and alcohol dependence. Personality was assessed using the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire. The Dyadic Adjustment Scale was used to measure marital adjustment. Results indicate that more externalizing psychopathology, greater negative emotionality, and lower communal positive emotionality were associated with reduced marital adjustment in both individuals and their spouses. Low constraint was associated with reduced marital adjustment for individuals but not for their spouses. Multivariate analyses indicated externalizing psychopathology continued to predict marital adjustment even when accounting for overlap with personality. These results highlight the importance of examining the presence of externalizing psychopathology and the personality attributes of both members of a dyad when considering psychological predictors of marital adjustment.
- marital adjustment