Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences




Research on marital communication has focused on nonverbal behaviors (e.g., affect), leaving specific word use relatively unexplored. Recent work, however, suggests that similarity in function words (e.g., articles) may be associated with relational functioning in younger couples. We explored if this language style matching (LSM) also occurred in more established relationships and whether it was related to marital satisfaction within a sample of 64 older adult married couples. Using a dyadic, two-wave, observational research design, our results suggest that LSM is highly prevalent in older couples’ conversations across three different tasks (reminiscence, problem solving, and health support). Only LSM during reminiscence, however, was related to wives’ concurrent marital satisfaction. We considered implications for future research and for potential clinical interventions targeting language and communication in older adults.