THE RELATION OF PROBLEM DRINKING TO CURRENT MARRIAGE: COMPARISONS BETWEEN ALCOHOLICS AND THEIR WIVES

NORMA SOUTHWORTH, Fordham University

Abstract

Contrasting groups of male alcoholics and their nonalcoholic wives were compared on psychological, cognitive, and behavioral variables. Subjects were tested during the first and fourth weeks of the alcoholics' participation in a voluntary, inpatient alcohol rehabilitation program. Included in the test battery were scales measuring dependency, hostility, beliefs about alcoholism, and ratings of the traits characteristic of themselves, their mates, generalized alcoholics, and "nondrinkers." An experimental game, designed for this study, measured the generosity and competitiveness couples showed each other and the expectations they held of each other. The game contained 54 matrices in which subjects selected one of two options in distributing points between themselves and their mates.^ Couples were assigned to either the Premarital or Postmarital contrast group according to whether alcohol had become a problem before marriage or after marriage. Each group contained 18 couples. Assertions about differences were supported at the .05 level.^ Premarital alcoholics had developed drinking problems before the age of 30, or 10 years earlier than Postmarital alcoholics. They were more dependent and more hostile, and rated themselves less favorably. Premarital wives endorsed the belief that alcoholism is an illness less firmly than Postmarital wives, and more firmly supported the view that it is a character defect. Both Premarital groups reported prior marriages more frequently than their Postmarital counterparts.^ Both alcoholic groups were more hostile than their wives. Premarital alcoholics also were more dependent. Premarital couples agreed that the alcoholics possessed less favorable traits than their wives, even though they behaved like them in showing more generosity than they expected to receive. The wives received more from their husbands than they had expected. Postmarital alcoholics did not agree with their wives that they possessed less favorable traits. They comprised the only group who failed to show more generosity than they expected to receive. Their wives were accurate in predicting their husband's behavior, and also more generous.^ In Postmarital wives, generosity varied inversely with hostility. In Pre- an Postmarital wives, competitiveness varied directly with dependency and with hostility. The frequency with which these associations were found was higher than would be expected by chance. ^

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

SOUTHWORTH, NORMA, "THE RELATION OF PROBLEM DRINKING TO CURRENT MARRIAGE: COMPARISONS BETWEEN ALCOHOLICS AND THEIR WIVES" (1982). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8219261.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8219261

Share

COinS