Marital Quality and Negative Experienced Well-Being: An Assessment of Actor and Partner Effects Among Older Married Persons

We evaluate (a) associations between marital quality (emotional support, strain, and overall appraisal) and three negative aspects of experienced well-being (frustration, sadness, and worry) among older husbands and wives and (b) the relative importance of own versus spouse's marital quality assessments for understanding experienced well-being in later life. Data are from the 2009 Disability and Use of Time daily diary supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (N = 722). We estimate actor-partner interdependence models, using seemingly unrelated regression. Own reports of marital strain are associated with own frustration, sadness, and worry among wives and are associated with frustration only among husbands. Own reports of marital support are associated with negative emotion among husbands only: higher levels of marital support are associated with less worry. Results from partner effects analyses also are mixed. Husbands' reports of marital strain are associated with wives' elevated frustration levels, whereas wives' reports of greater marital support are associated with their husbands' higher frustration levels. One's own and spouse's marital appraisals play a complex role in shaping negative emotions among older adults. Findings suggest that frustration is a particularly complex emotion and a promising area for further study among older married couples.