Individual chapters of this book are available to purchase online.

The true meaning of staying together "in sickness and in health" cannot be fully appreciated until illness strikes. This book chronicles the often brave and sometimes painful ways that couples adapt and cope when long-term illness arrives. From a cognitive–behavioral perspective, contributors explore how illness affects relationships and, in turn, how the quality of relationships affect coping behaviors and treatment outcomes.

This is the first book in the emerging field of the psychology of couples to focus solely on couples and illness, instead of the larger family unit. It details the associations between intimate relationships and illness across a wide variety of illnesses (e.g., cancer, HIV), physical trials (e.g., chronic pain and fertility issues), and health-related behaviors (e.g., smoking and alcohol use). The book brings together the most recent empirical data from psychologists who study and work with couples, exploring the biological, neurological, and immunological impacts of the couple relationship. The authors of each chapter also present insights into treatment approaches that address specific disease challenges as well as the maladaptive behavior of either partner.

Table of Contents





  1. Basic Research on the Psychobiology of Intimate Relationships
    —Thomas Groth, Gabriele Fehm-Wolfsdorf, and Kurt Hahlweg
  2. Coronary Heart Disease and Couples
    —Lynn A. Rankin-Esquer, Allison Deeter, and C. Burr Taylor
  3. Couples Coping With Respiratory Disorders
    —Karen B. Schmaling and Niloofar Afari
  4. Rheumatic Illness and Relationships: Coping as a Joint Venture
    —Sharon Danoff-Burg and Tracey A. Revenson
  5. Couples and Coping With Cancer: Helping Each Other Through the Night
    —W. Kim Halford, Jennifer L. Scott, and Jill Smythe
  6. Couples With HIV/AIDS
    —Seth C. Kalichman
  7. Couples and Chronic Pain
    —Lauren Schwartz and Dawn M. Ehde
  8. Couples and Premenstrual Syndrome: Partners as Moderators of Symptoms?
    —Andrew Jones, Violet Theodos, W. Jeffrey Canar, Tamara Goldman Sher, and Michael Young
  9. Couples Facing Fertility Problems
    —Lauri A. Pasch and Andrew Christensen
  10. Alcohol Problems and Couples: Drinking in an Intimate Relational Context
    —Linda J. Roberts and Kirsten D. Linney
  11. Couple Approaches to Smoking Cessation
    —Carleton A. Palmer, Donald H. Baucom, and Colleen M. McBride
  12. When the Bough Breaks: The Relationship Between Chronic Illness in Children and Couple Functioning
    —Rebecca Gaither, Kristin Bingen, and Joyce Hopkins

Author Index

Subject Index

About the Editors