Good Sex Keeps Marriage Stable Over The Long Term

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Eric Barker  -  
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Sexual satisfaction, marital quality, and marital instability have been studied over the life course of couples in many previous studies, but less in relation to each other. On the basis of the longitudinal data from 283 married couples, the authors used autoregressive models in this study to examine the causal sequences among these 3 constructs for husbands and wives separately. Results of cross-lagged models, for both husbands and wives, provided support for the causal sequences that proceed from sexual satisfaction to marital quality, from sexual satisfaction to marital instability, and from marital quality to marital instability. Initially higher levels of sexual satisfaction resulted in an increase in marital quality, which in turn led to a decrease in marital instability over time. Effects of sexual satisfaction on marital instability appear to have been mediated through marital quality.

Source: “Relationships among sexual satisfaction, marital quality, and marital instability at midlife.” from Journal of Family Psychology, Vol 20(2), Jun 2006, 339-343

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Do people cheat on their spouse because they’re stressed out?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Research on infidelity-related distress has focused on victims with little attention to perpetrators. Two studies therefore explore the psychological functioning of individuals who have engaged in dating infidelity. Study 1 showed that, compared to faithful partners, individuals who had engaged in infidelity showed more psychological distress. Study 2 investigated the interrelationships among infidelity, psychological distress, and relationship satisfaction over time. Results suggested that initial levels of psychological distress predicted later infidelity but infidelity did not predict subsequent psychological distress. Findings are interpreted in light of the broader infidelity literature, potential mechanisms are suggested, and avenues for future research are recommended.

Source: “Psychological Distress: Precursor or Consequence of Dating Infidelity?” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 35, No. 2, 143-159 (2009)

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How to quickly and easily improve your marriage:

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Eric Barker  -  
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Close relationships are central to health and happiness. Most research has focused on eliminating problems such as conflict and tension, issues that counselors are likely to encounter. However, some cross-sectional surveys of the general public suggest that another problem faced in long-term marriages may be simple boredom, the lack of excitement; laboratory and shortterm field experiments suggest a causal effect of reducing boredom (by shared participation in exciting activities) on relationship quality (e.g., Aron et al., 2000). The experimental and other research (e.g., Graham, 2008) demonstrating this effect is based on the self-expansion model (Aron & Aron, 1986), which indicates that the excitement often experienced during relationship formation arises from rapid development of closeness, the rate of which inevitably declines over time. However, if partners experience excitement from other sources (such as novel and challenging activities) in a shared context, this shared experience can reignite relationship passion by associating the excitement with the relationship.

Source: “Marital Boredom Now Predicts Less Satisfaction 9 Years Later” from Psychological Science, Vol. 20, #5

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Does a female breadwinner raise risk of divorce?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Yes, and substantially so:

Using German panel data from 1984 to 2007, we analyze the impact of labor division between husband and wife on the risk of divorce. Gary Becker’s theory of marriage predicts that specialization in domestic and market work, respectively, reduces the risk of separation. Traditionally, the breadwinner role is assigned to the husband, however, female labor force participation and their wages have risen substantially. Our results suggest that there are gender-specific differences, e.g. female breadwinner-couples have a substantially higher risk of divorce than male breadwinner-couples. In contrast, the equal division does not significantly alter the probability of separation.

Source: “Effect of Labor Division between Wife and Husband on the Risk of Divorce: Evidence from German Data” from IZA Discussion Paper No. 4515, October 2009

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Is marriage a good idea for handsome men?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Maybe not:

Physical appearance plays a crucial role in shaping new relationships, but does it continue to affect established relationships, such as marriage? In the current study, the authors examined how observer ratings of each spouse’s facial attractiveness and the difference between those ratings were associated with (a) observations of social support behavior and (b) reports of marital satisfaction. In contrast to the robust and almost universally positive effects of levels of attractiveness on new relationships, the only association between levels of attractiveness and the outcomes of these marriages was that attractive husbands were less satisfied. Further, in contrast to the importance of matched attractiveness to new relationships, similarity in attractiveness was unrelated to spouses’ satisfaction and behavior. Instead, the relative difference between partners’ levels of attractiveness appeared to be most important in predicting marital behavior, such that both spouses behaved more positively in relationships in which wives were more attractive than their husbands, but they behaved more negatively in relationships in which husbands were more attractive than their wives. These results highlight the importance of dyadic examinations of the effects of spouses’ qualities on their marriages.

Source: “Beyond initial attraction: Physical attractiveness in newlywed marriage.” from Journal of Family Psychology

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