The association between depressive symptoms and marital distress is well studied. However, less is known regarding the mediating links of this relationship. This study aims at testing the theory-driven hypothesis whether the depression-marital distress link is mediated by lower levels of an important positive couple process: the capitalization of positive experiences by sharing them with the romantic partner.
In a longitudinal couple study, N = 211 couples answered online questionnaires on depressive symptoms (CES-D) and positive sharing. Three months later, relationship quality was assessed (DAS-4). Mediation analyses were conducted by using an extended version of the Actor Partner Interdependence Model (APIM).
Positive sharing mediated the association between depressive symptoms and relationship quality. Indirect effects were significant within person (mediated actor effects) as well crossing over to the partner (mediated partner effects), which suggests a truly interactive interpersonal process.
Positive interpersonal processes, particularly in the romantic relationship, can be considered as altered significantly in the context of depression—not only in the person suffering from the symptoms but also in the romantic partner. Thus, an interpersonal view on the development and impact of depressive symptoms seems justified.