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18-05-2020 | ORIGINAL PAPER

The Influence of Anxiety and Mindfulness on Relationship Quality: an Investigation of Comparative and Dyadic Effects

Carolyn Cape Cox, Francesca Adler-Baeder, Julianne McGill, Erin Cooper
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Historically, research has evidenced robust links between psychopathology and relational health; however, only recently have similar associations been made between mindfulness and relationship quality. The current study serves to advance understandings of how anxiety and trait mindfulness influence relationship quality over time.


Using an actor-partner interdependence model in an ethnically and economically varied sample of 269 heterosexual couples (N = 538), we examined the relative predictability of anxiety and mindfulness on both self- and partner-reports of relationship quality 6 months later.


Results indicate that men’s and women’s own level of trait mindfulness at baseline were significantly related to their relationship quality 6 months later. Women’s level of trait mindfulness was approaching significance in predicting their partners’ relationship quality 6 months later. Anxiety (for both men and women) did not uniquely predict their own or their partner’s relationship quality 6 months later, accounting for one’s own and partner’s mindfulness.


Findings are consistent with family stress theory and suggest that mindfulness may be a family resource promoting successful intimate partnerships, and further that the relational benefits of mindfulness may outweigh the damaging effects of anxiety. Suggestions are made for future research.

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