The purpose of this investigation was to study the affect, psychophysiology, and verbal content of arguments in couples with a violent husband. On the basis of self-reports of violent arguments, there were no wife behaviors that successfully suppressed husband violence once it began; moreover, husband violence escalated in response to nonviolent as well as violent wife behaviors, whereas wife violence escalated only in reaction to husband violence or emotional abuse. Only wives were fearful during violent and nonviolent arguments. The observational coding of nonviolent arguments in the laboratory revealed that both battering husbands and their wives (DV) were angrier than their maritally distressed but nonviolent (DNV) counterparts. As predicted, on the more provocative anger codes, only DV men differed from their DNV counterparts. However, DV wives were as verbally aggressive toward their husbands as DV husbands were toward their wives.