Expectations of the effects of drinking on couple relationship functioning: An assessment of women in distressed relationships who consume alcohol at harmful levels
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Based on a cognitive-social learning model of alcohol use, it was hypothesised that women with both alcohol and relationship problems would endorse more positive expectations of the effects of alcohol consumption on their relationship and would report lower relational efficacy than women without relationship or alcohol problems. Measures of relationship-referent alcohol expectancies and relational efficacy were completed by 174 married women with both alcohol and relationship problems (n=20), alcohol problems alone (n=26), relationship problems alone (n=30), or neither problem (n=98). Women without either alcohol or relationship problems strongly rejected expectations of enhanced relationship functioning (e.g., enhanced intimacy, increased emotional expression) following alcohol consumption, whereas women with both alcohol and relationship problems were ambivalent about these positive expectations. Women with both problems also reported lower relational efficacy than the other groups of women. Negative expectations about the effect of alcohol consumption on relationships in women with low relational efficacy may inhibit harmful drinking.