Dyadic Adaptation to Chronic Illness: The Importance of Considering Context in Understanding Couples’ Resilience

  • Kristi E. GamarelEmail author
  • Tracey A. Revenson


This chapter focuses on dyadic resilience among gay male couples who exhibit resilience in the face of a particular medical challenge: HIV disease. We expand the construct of resilience in two ways: first, considering it as an interpersonal process and second applying it to a specific population of couples who face a particular medical challenge: gay male couples where one or both partners are living with HIV. We draw special attention to dyadic resilience among serodiscordant couples (when one partner is HIV-negative and the other HIV-positive) as there is an inherent risk of HIV transmission as a consequence of unprotected anal intercourse. After defining the construct of dyadic resilience, we systematically review the literature on relationship processes as they affect sexual risk behavior, adherence and well-being among gay couples where one or both partners has HIV, noting which processes contribute to or inhibit resilience. From the findings of the review, we propose a social-relational framework that integrates interdependence theory (Lewis et al., 2006) and dyadic coping models (Revenson TA, Kayser KE, Bodenmann GE, Couples coping with stress: emerging perspectives on dyadic coping. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, 2005) to examine potential mechanisms and sociocultural factors that may be critical to optimizing dyadic resilience among couples facing severe life stressors.


Resilience Couples Dyadic coping HIV Chronic illness Gay men 



We gratefully thank Drs. Sarit Golub and Don Operario for feedback on earlier drafts of the chapter and Dr. Karen Fergus for helping us develop our definition of dyadic resilience.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Human BehaviorAlpert Medical School of Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Hunter College and the Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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