Advertisement

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 1649–1661 | Cite as

When Self-Worth Is Tied to One’s Sexual and Romantic Relationship: Associations with Well-Being in Couples Coping with Genito-Pelvic Pain

  • Maria Glowacka
  • Sophie Bergeron
  • Justin Dubé
  • Natalie O. Rosen
Original Paper

Abstract

Contingent self-worth (CSW; the pursuit of self-esteem via a particular domain in one’s life) impacts well-being based on one’s perceived success or failure in the contingent domain. In a community sample, individuals with sexual problems reported greater sexual CSW—self-worth dependent on maintaining a sexual relationship—than those without problems. Couples coping with provoked vestibulodynia (PVD), a genito-pelvic pain condition, perceive failures in their sexual relationship, which could be associated with more pain and poorer well-being. In contrast, relationship CSW—self-worth dependent on the overall romantic relationship—may act as a buffer against adverse outcomes. Eighty-two women with PVD and their partners completed online standardized measures of sexual and relationship CSW, sexual distress and satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and depressive symptoms, and women reported their pain intensity. Analyses were based on the actor–partner interdependence model. Women with PVD who reported greater sexual CSW experienced more sexual distress and pain. Additionally, when partners reported greater sexual CSW, they were less sexually and relationally satisfied and more sexually distressed, and women had greater depressive symptoms and lower relationship satisfaction. In contrast, when partners reported higher relationship CSW, they were more sexually and relationally satisfied and less sexually distressed, and women reported lower depressive symptoms and greater relationship satisfaction. Results suggest that couples’ (particularly partners’) greater sexual CSW is linked to poorer sexual, relational, and psychological well-being in couples affected by PVD, whereas partners’ greater relationship CSW is associated with better well-being. Thus, sexual and relationship CSW may be important treatment targets for interventions aimed at improving how couples adjust to PVD.

Keywords

Sexual contingent self-worth Relationship contingent self-worth Provoked vestibulodynia Couples Genito-pelvic pain 

Notes

Acknowledgement

The authors would like to thank the couples who participated in this study. The authors would also like to extend their gratitude to Kathy Petite, Gillian K. Boudreau, Mylène Desrosiers, Myriam Pâquet, and the members of the Couples and Sexual Health Laboratory, Dalhousie University, and the Sexual Health Laboratory, Université de Montréal, for their assistance with this project. This research is supported by an operating grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), held by Natalie O. Rosen and Sophie Bergeron. Maria Glowacka was supported by doctoral awards from the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (NSHRF), the IWK Health Centre, and the Maritime SPOR Support Unit (MSSU, which receives financial support from CIHR, the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, the New Brunswick Department of Health, NSHRF, and the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation). The opinions, results, and conclusions reported in this article are those of the authors and are independent from the funding sources.

References

  1. Ayling, K., & Ussher, J. M. (2008). ‘‘If sex hurts, am I still a woman?’’ The subjective experience of vulvodynia in hetero-sexual women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37, 294–304.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-007-9204-1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Brown, G. K. (1996). Manual for the Beck depression inventory-II. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  3. Bergeron, S., Corsini-Munt, S., Aerts, L., Rancourt, K., & Rosen, N. O. (2015). Female sexual pain disorders: A review of the literature on etiology and treatment. Current Sexual Health Reports, 7, 159–169.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11930-015-0053-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blascovich, J., & Tomaka, J. (1991). Measures of self-esteem. In J. P. Robinson, P. R. Shaver, & L. S. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measures of personality and social psychological attitudes (Vol. 1, pp. 115–160). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bois, K., Bergeron, S., Rosen, N., McDuff, P., & Grégoire, C. (2013). Sexual and relationship intimacy among women with provoked vestibulodynia and their partners: Associations with sexual satisfaction, sexual function, and pain self-efficacy. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10, 2024–2035.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12210.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bornstein, J., Goldstein, A. T., Stockdale, C. K., Bergeron, S., Pukall, C., Zolnoun, D., & Coady, D. (2016). 2015 ISSVD, ISSWSH and IPPS consensus terminology and classification of persistent vulvar pain and vulvodynia. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 13, 607–612.  https://doi.org/10.1097/AOG.0000000000001359.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Burckhardt, C. S., & Jones, K. D. (2003). Adult measures of pain: The McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ), Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Scale (RAPS), Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ), Verbal Descriptive Scale (VDS), Visual Analog Scale (VAS), and West Haven-Yale Multidisciplinary Pain Inventory (WHYMPI). Arthritis Care & Research, 49, S96–S104.  https://doi.org/10.1002/art.11440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Byers, S., & Macneil, S. (2006). Further validation of the Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 32, 53–69.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00926230500232917.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Cambron, M. J., & Acitelli, L. K. (2010). Examining the link between friendship contingent self-esteem and the self-propagating cycle of depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29, 701–726.  https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2010.29.6.701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cappelleri, J. C., Althof, S. E., Siegel, R. L., Shpilsky, A., Bell, S. S., & Duttagupta, S. (2004). Development and validation of the Self-Esteem and Relationship (SEAR) questionnaire in erectile dysfunction. International Journal of Impotence Research, 16, 30–38.  https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijir.3901095.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Carnelley, K. B., Pietromonaco, P. R., & Jaffe, K. (1994). Depression, working models of others, and relationship functioning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 127–140.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.66.1.127.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Crocker, J. (2002a). Contingencies of self-worth: Implications for self-regulation and psychological vulnerability. Self and Identity, 1, 143–149.  https://doi.org/10.1080/152988602317319320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Crocker, J. (2002b). The costs of seeking self-esteem. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 597–615.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-4560.00279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Crocker, J., & Park, L. E. (2004). The costly pursuit of self-esteem. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 392–414.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.130.3.392.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Crocker, J., & Wolfe, C. T. (2001). Contingencies of self worth. Psychological Review, 108, 593–623.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.108.3.593.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. DeRogatis, L. R., Clayton, A., Lewis-D’Agostino, D., Wunderlich, G., & Fu, Y. (2008). Validation of the Female Sexual Distress Scale-Revised for assessing distress in women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5, 357–364.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2007.00672.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Desrochers, G., Bergeron, S., Landry, T., & Jodoin, M. (2008). Do psychosexual factors play a role in the etiology of provoked vestibulodynia? A critical review. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 34, 198–226.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00926230701866083.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Diamond, L. M. (2004). Emerging perspectives on distinctions between romantic love and sexual desire. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13, 116–119.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0963-7214.2004.00287.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Funk, J. L., & Rogge, R. D. (2007). Testing the ruler with item response theory: Increasing the precision of measurement for relationship satisfaction with the Couples Satisfaction Index. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 572–583.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.21.4.572.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Gates, E. A., & Galask, R. P. (2001). Psychological and sexual functioning in women with vulvar vestibulitis. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 22, 221–228.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Glowacka, M., Rosen, N. O., Vannier, S., & MacLellan, M. C. (2017). Development and validation of the Sexual Contingent Self-Worth Scale. Journal of Sex Research, 54, 117–129.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2016.1186587.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Grafton, K. V., Foster, N. E., & Wright, C. C. (2005). Test-retest reliability of the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire: Assessment of intraclass correlation coefficients and limits of agreement in patients with osteoarthritis. Clinical Journal of Pain, 21, 73–82.  https://doi.org/10.1097/00002508-200501000-00009.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Hadden, B. W., Rodriguez, L. M., Knee, C. R., & Porter, B. (2015). Relationship autonomy and support provision in romantic relationships. Motivation and Emotion, 39, 359–373.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-014-9455-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harlow, B. L., Kunitz, C. G., Nguyen, R. H. N., Rydell, S. A., Turner, R. M., & MacLehose, R. F. (2014). Prevalence of symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of vulvodynia: Population-based estimates from 2 geographic regions. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 210, 40.e1–e8.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2013.09.033.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Harris, C. A., & Joyce, L. D. (2008). Psychometric properties of the Beck Depression Inventory-(BDI-II) in individuals with chronic pain. Pain, 137, 609–622.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pain.2007.10.022.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Kenny, D. A., Kashy, D. A., & Cook, W. L. (2006). Dyadic data analysis. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  27. Knee, C. R., Canevello, A., Bush, A. L., & Cook, A. (2008). Relationship-contingent self-esteem and the ups and downs of romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 608–627.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.95.3.608.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Lawrance, K., & Byers, E. S. (1995). Sexual satisfaction in long-term heterosexual relationships: The Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 1, 123–128.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.1995.tb00092.x.Google Scholar
  29. Marriott, C., & Thompson, A. R. (2008). Managing threats to femininity: Personal and interpersonal experience of living with vulval pain. Psychology & Health, 23, 243–258.  https://doi.org/10.1080/14768320601168185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Melzack, R. (1987). The short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire. Pain, 30, 191–197.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-3959(87)91074-8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Ménard, A. D., & Offman, A. (2009). The interrelationships between sexual self-esteem, sexual assertiveness and sexual satisfaction. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 18, 35–45. Retrieved from http://utpjournals.press/loi/cjhs.
  32. Muise, A., Bergeron, S., Impett, E. A., & Rosen, N. O. (2017). The costs and benefits of sexual communal motivation for couples coping with vulvodynia. Health Psychology, 36, 819–827.  https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000470.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Niiya, Y., Crocker, J., & Bartmess, E. N. (2004). From vulnerability to resilience: Learning orientations buffer contingent self-esteem from failure. Psychological Science, 15, 801–805.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.00759.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Pakenham, K. I., & Samios, C. (2013). Couples coping with multiple sclerosis: A dyadic perspective on the roles of mindfulness and acceptance. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 36, 389–400.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-012-9434-0.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Park, E. S., Villanueva, C. A., Viers, B. R., Siref, A. B., & Feloney, M. P. (2011a). Assessment of sexual dysfunction and sexually related personal distress in patients who have undergone orthotopic liver transplantation for end-stage liver disease. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8, 2292–2298.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02264.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Park, L. E., & Crocker, J. (2005). Interpersonal consequences of seeking self-esteem. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 1587–1598.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167205277206.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Park, L. E., Sanchez, D. T., & Brynildsen, K. (2011b). Maladaptive responses to relationship dissolution: The role of relationship contingent self-worth. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41, 1740–1773.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00769.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Payne, K. A., Binik, Y. M., Amsel, R., & Khalife, S. (2005). When sex hurts, anxiety and fear orient attention towards pain. European Journal of Pain, 9, 427–436.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpain.2004.10.003.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Pazmany, E., Bergeron, S., Oudenhove, L. V., Verhaeghe, J., & Enzlin, P. (2013). Aspects of sexual self-schema in premenopausal women with dyspareunia: Associations with pain, sexual function, and sexual distress. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10, 2255–2264.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12237.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Pincus, T., & Morley, S. (2001). Cognitive-processing bias in chronic pain: A review and integration. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 599–617.  https://doi.org/10.1037//0033-2909.127.5.599.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Pukall, C. F., Goldstein, A. T., Bergeron, S., Foster, D., Stein, A., Kellogg-Spadt, S., & Bachmann, G. (2016). Vulvodynia: Definition, prevalence, impact, and pathophysiological factors. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 13, 291–304.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2015.12.021.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Rancourt, K. M., Rosen, N. O., Bergeron, S., & Nealis, L. J. (2016). Talking about sex when sex is painful: Dyadic sexual communication is associated with women’s pain, and couples’ sexual and psychological outcomes in provoked vestibulodynia. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45, 1933–1944.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-015-0670-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Roelofs, J., Peters, M. L., Zeegersb, M. P. A., & Vlaeyena, J. W. S. (2002). The modified Stroop paradigm as a measure of selective attention towards pain-related stimuli among chronic pain patients: A meta-analysis. European Journal of Pain, 6, 27–281.  https://doi.org/10.1053/eujp.2002.0337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rosen, N. O., Bergeron, S., Glowacka, M., Delisle, I., & Baxter, M. L. (2012). Harmful or helpful: Perceived solicitous and facilitative partner responses are differentially associated with pain and sexual satisfaction in women with provoked vestibulodynia. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 9, 2351–2360.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02851.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Rosen, N. O., Bergeron, S., Sadikaj, G., Glowacka, M., Baxter, M. L., & Delisle, I. (2013). Impact of male partner responses on sexual function in women with vulvodynia and their partners: A dyadic daily experience study. Health Psychology, 33, 823–831.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034550.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Rosen, N. O., Bois, K., Mayrand, M.-H., Vannier, S., & Bergeron, S. (2016a). Observed and perceived disclosure and empathy are associated with better relationship adjustment and quality of life in couples coping with vulvodynia. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45, 1945–1956.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0739-x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Rosen, N. O., Dewitte, M., Merwin, K., & Bergeron, S. (2016b). Interpersonal goals and well-being in couples coping with genito-pelvic pain. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46, 2007–2019.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0877-1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Rosen, N. O., Muise, A., Bergeron, S., Impett, E., & Boudreau, G. (2015). Approach and avoidance sexual goals in women with provoked vestibulodynia and their partners: Associations with sexual, relationship and psychological well-being. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12, 1781–1790.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12948.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Sadownik, L. A., Smith, K. B., Hui, A., & Brotto, L. A. (2016). The impact of a woman’s dyspareunia and its treatment on her intimate partner: A qualitative analysis. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 43, 529–542.  https://doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2016.1208697.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Sanchez, D. T., Moss-Racusin, C. A., Phelan, J. E., & Crocker, J. (2011). Relationship contingency and sexual motivation in women: Implications for sexual satisfaction. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 99–110.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-009-9593-4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Santos-Iglesias, P., Danko, A., Robinson, J., & Walker, L. (2016). Assessing men’s sexual distress: The psychometric validation of the Female Sexual Distress Scale in men. Paper presented at the Canadian Sex Research Forum, Quebec City, PQ.Google Scholar
  52. Schotha, D. E., Nunesb, V. D., & Liossi, C. (2012). Attentional bias towards pain-related information in chronic pain: A meta-analysis of visual-probe investigations. Clinical Psychology Review, 32, 13–25.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2011.09.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Segrin, C., & Badger, T. A. (2014). Psychological and physical distress are interdependent in breast cancer survivors and their partners. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 19, 716–723.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13548506.2013.871304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sheppard, C., Hallam-Jones, R., & Wylie, K. (2008). Why have you both come? Emotional, relationship, sexual and social issues raised by heterosexual couples seeking sexual therapy (in women referred to a sexual difficulties clinic with a history of vulval pain). Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 23, 217–226.  https://doi.org/10.1080/14681990802227974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith, K. B., & Pukall, C. F. (2011). A systematic review of relationship adjustment and sexual satisfaction among women with provoked vestibulodynia. Journal of Sex Research, 48, 166–191.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2011.555016.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Snell, W. E., Fisher, T. D., & Walters, A. S. (1993). The Multidimensional Sexuality Questionnaire: An objective self-report measure of psychological tendencies associated with human sexuality. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 6, 27–55.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00849744.Google Scholar
  57. Stewart, D. N., & Szymanski, D. M. (2012). Young adult women’s reports of their male romantic partner’s pornography use as a correlate of their self-esteem, relationship quality, and sexual satisfaction. Sex Roles, 67, 257–271.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-012-0164-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Taleporos, G., & McCabe, M. P. (2002). The impact of sexual esteem, body esteem, and sexual satisfaction on psychological well-being with physical disability. Sexuality and Disability, 20, 177–183.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021493615456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Vannier, S. A., Rosen, N. O., Mackinnon, S. P., & Bergeron, S. (2016). Maintaining affection despite pain: Daily associations between physical affection and sexual and relationship well-being in women with genito-pelvic pain. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46, 2021–2031.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0820-5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Zhou, E. S., Kim, Y., Rasheed, M., Benedict, C., Bustillo, N. E., Soloway, M., … Penedo, F. J. (2011). Marital satisfaction of advanced prostate cancer survivors and their spousal caregivers: The dyadic effects of physical and mental health. Psycho-Oncology, 20, 1353–1357.  https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.1855.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Glowacka
    • 1
  • Sophie Bergeron
    • 2
  • Justin Dubé
    • 1
  • Natalie O. Rosen
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceLife Sciences CentreHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyIWK Health CentreHalifaxCanada

Personalised recommendations