Excuses, Excuses: Accounting for the Effects of Partner Violence on Marital Satisfaction and Stability
For both theoretical and practical reasons, it is important to understand processes that lead to marital dissatisfaction and dissolution among women who are targets of relationship violence. Because attributional tendencies may often forecast marital behavior and because alcohol use is often seen as providing an excuse for deviant behavior, we examine two potential moderators of the associations between husband violence and wife marital outcomes: wife attributional style and husband problem drinking tendencies. A community sample of married couples (N = 66) completed a comprehensive battery of marital assessments. Results suggested that responsibility attributions moderated the association between husband violence and wives’ marital dissatisfaction but exerted a direct effect on wives’ disposition toward divorce. Husband problem drinking moderated the impact of husband violence only on wives’ disposition toward divorce. As would be expected from an “excuse” model of the associations between violence and marital outcomes, violence had less of an impact on marital satisfaction and divorce ideation when wives attributed responsibility for negative spouse behavior as external to their husbands and when husbands were problem drinkers, respectively.