The Influence of Stress on Depression and Substance Use Problems Among Young Male Same-Sex Couples: Relationship Functioning as an Underlying Mechanism
Stress experienced by either partner in a couple can have a negative impact on each partner’s health, but most dyadic research on stress and health has focused on different-sex couples. We examined relationship functioning as a mechanism underlying the longitudinal actor and partner effects of stress on depression and substance use problems among 109 young male same-sex couples. There were significant indirect actor effects of internalized stigma and microaggressions on depression and alcohol use problems through negative relationship interactions. Participants who reported higher levels of internalized stigma and microaggressions reported increases in negative relationship interactions, which in turn was associated with reporting greater depression and alcohol use problems. In contrast, none of the indirect partner effects were significant. Findings implicate negative relationship interactions as a mechanism linking minority stress to health but raise questions about the influence of partner stress on individual health among young male same-sex couples.