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Drinking and Marital Aggression in Newlyweds: An Event-Based Analysis of Drinking and the Occurrence of Husband Marital Aggression

Kenneth E. Leonard, Brian M. Quigley

Objective: Research suggests that domestically violent men are more likely to be heavy drinkers than nonviolent men. However, very little data has addressed the relationship between the occurrence of a domestic violence episode and the co-occurrence of husband or wife alcohol consumption. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between husband and wife drinking and whether the most serious conflict involved verbal aggression, moderate physical aggression or severe physical aggression. Method: Newlywed couples (n = 366) who were assessed with respect to risk factors for marital violence at the time of marriage were interviewed at the end of their first year of marriage. These in-person interviews focused on characteristics (location, presence of other people, husband drinking, wife drinking) of the most severe verbal conflict, and the first and the most severe episode of physical aggression. Results: After controlling for individual difference risk factors including husband and wife drinking patterns, husband drinking was more likely in episodes of physical vs episodes of verbal aggression. This finding was consistent in both husband and wife, and consistent in both between-groups and within-groups analyses. Wife drinking was largely unrelated to occurrence or severity of violence. Conclusions: These results support the contention that alcohol use may contribute to the occurrence and/or severity of domestic violence, particularly in the early stages of marriage. (J. Stud. Alcohol 60: 537-545, 1999)