Advertisement

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 109–120 | Cite as

Perceived Partner Responsiveness Mediates the Association Between Sexual and Marital Satisfaction: A Daily Diary Study in Newlywed Couples

  • Reuma GadassiEmail author
  • Lior Eadan Bar-Nahum
  • Sarah Newhouse
  • Ragnar Anderson
  • Julia R. Heiman
  • Eshkol Rafaeli
  • Erick Janssen
Original Paper

Abstract

Sexuality is an integral part of intimate relationships, yet surprisingly little is known about how and for whom sexuality matters. The present research investigated the interplay of sexual and non-sexual factors that contribute to relationship satisfaction. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that the association between sexual satisfaction and marital satisfaction is mediated by a non-sexual factor—namely, perceived partner responsiveness (PPR). Additionally, we tested the role of gender as a possible moderator of this mediated association. Thirty-four newlywed couples completed diaries with each spouse reporting their sexual satisfaction, marital satisfaction, and PPR every day for 30 days. We tested our predictions at both the person level (i.e., the mean level across 30 days) and the daily level. At the person level, we found that sexual satisfaction and PPR separately predicted marital satisfaction. Moreover, the effect of sexual satisfaction on marital satisfaction was partially mediated by PPR. No gender differences emerged at this level. At the daily level, we found similar support for partial mediation. However, at this level, gender did serve as a moderator. The stronger mediation found for women was driven by a stronger association between sexual satisfaction and PPR for women than for men. This study joins a growing literature highlighting the role of PPR in dyadic relationships.

Keywords

Perceived partner responsiveness Sexual satisfaction Marital satisfaction Daily diaries 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a grant from the Faculty Research Support Program (FRSP) at Indiana University to Erick Janssen, Ph.D. and Julia Heiman, Ph.D.

References

  1. Bauer, D. J., Preacher, K. J., & Gil, K. M. (2006). Conceptualizing and testing random indirect effects and moderated mediation in multilevel models: New procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods, 11, 142–163.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2004). Sexual economics: Sex as female resource for social exchange in heterosexual interactions. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8, 339–363.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beebe, B., & Lachmann, F. M. (2002). Infant research and adult treatment: Co-constructing interactions. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.Google Scholar
  4. Birnbaum, G. E., & Laser-Brandt, D. (2002). Gender differences in the experience of heterosexual intercourse. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 11, 143–158.Google Scholar
  5. Birnbaum, G. E., & Reis, H. T. (2012). When does responsiveness pique sexual interest? Attachment and sexual desire in initial acquaintanceships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 946–958.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Birnbaum, G. E., Reis, H. T., Mikulincer, M., Gillath, O., & Orpaz, A. (2006). When sex is more than just sex: Attachment orientations, sexual experience, and relationship quality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 929–943.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bolger, N., & Laurenceau, J. P. (2013). Intensive longitudinal methods: An introduction to diary and experience sampling research. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  8. Butzer, B., & Campbell, L. (2008). Adult attachment, sexual satisfaction, and relationship satisfaction: A study of married couples. Personal Relationships, 15, 141–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Byers, E. S. (2005). Relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction: A longitudinal study of individuals in long-term relationships. Journal of Sex Research, 42, 113–118.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Call, V., Sprecher, S., & Schwartz, P. (1995). The incidence and frequency of marital sex in a national sample. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57, 639–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Christopher, F. S., & Sprecher, S. (2000). Sexuality in marriage, dating, and other relationships: A decade review. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62, 999–1017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark, M. S., Graham, S. M., Williams, E., & Lemay, E. P. (2008). Understanding relational focus of attention may help us understand relational phenomena. In J. Forgas & J. Fitness (Eds.), Social relationships: Cognitive, affective and motivational processes (pp. 131–146). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cranford, J. A., Shrout, P. E., Iida, M., Rafaeli, E., Yip, T., & Bolger, N. (2006). A procedure for evaluating sensitivity to within-person change: Can mood measures in diary studies detect change reliably? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 917–929.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cupach, W. R., & Comstock, J. (1990). Satisfaction with sexual communication in marriage: Links to sexual satisfaction and dyadic adjustment. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 7, 179–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davis, D., Shaver, P. R., Widaman, K. F., Vernon, M. L., Follette, W. C., & Beitz, K. (2006). “I can’t get no satisfaction”: Insecure attachment, inhibited sexual communication, and sexual dissatisfaction. Personal Relationships, 13, 465–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Debrot, A., Cook, W. L., Perrez, M., & Horn, A. B. (2012). Deeds matter: Daily enacted responsiveness and intimacy in couples’ daily lives. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 617–627.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dundon, C. M., & Rellini, A. H. (2010). More than sexual function: Predictors of sexual satisfaction in a sample of women age 40–70. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7, 896–904.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Feldman, R. (2012). Oxytocin and social affiliation in humans. Hormones and Behavior, 61, 380–391.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fisher, T. D., & McNulty, J. K. (2008). Neuroticism and marital satisfaction: The mediating role played by the sexual relationship. Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 112–122.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gable, S. L., Gosnell, C. L., Maisel, N. C., & Strachman, A. (2012). Safely testing the alarm: Close others’ responses to personal positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103, 963–981.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E. A., & Asher, E. R. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 228–245.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gleason, M. E. J., Iida, M., Bolger, N., & Shrout, P. E. (2003). Daily supportive equity in close relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 1036–1045.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. R. (1994). Attachment as an organizational framework for research on close relationships. Psychological Inquiry, 5, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Heiman, J. R., Long, J. S., Smith, S. N., Fisher, W. A., Sand, M. S., & Rosen, R. C. (2011). Sexual satisfaction and relationship happiness in midlife and older couples in five countries. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 741–753.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Henderson-King, D. H., & Veroff, J. (1994). Sexual satisfaction and marital well-being in the first years of marriage. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 11, 509–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Howland, M., & Rafaeli, E. (2010). Bringing everyday mind reading into everyday life: Measuring empathic accuracy with daily diary data. Journal of Personality, 78, 1437–1468.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Iida, M., Seidman, G., Shrout, P., Fujita, K., & Bolger, N. (2008). Modeling support provision in intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 460–478.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (1995). The longitudinal course of marital quality and stability: A review of theory, method, and research. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 3–34.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kenny, D. A., Kashy, D. A., & Cook, W. L. (2006). Dyadic data analysis. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  30. Krull, J. L., & MacKinnon, D. P. (2001). Multilevel modeling of individual and group level mediated effects. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 36, 249–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lawrance, K. A., & Byers, E. S. (1995). Sexual satisfaction in long-term heterosexual relationships: The interpersonal exchange model of sexual satisfaction. Personal Relationships, 2, 267–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ledermann, T., Macho, S., & Kenny, D. A. (2011). Assessing mediation in dyadic data using the actor–partner interdependence model. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 18, 595–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Litzinger, S., & Gordon, K. C. (2005). Exploring relationships among communication, sexual satisfaction, and marital satisfaction. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 31, 409–424.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Liu, C. (2003). Does quality of marital sex decline with duration? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 55–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lykins, A. D., Janssen, E., Newhouse, S., Heiman, J. R., & Rafaeli, E. (2012). The effects of similarity in sexual excitation, inhibition, and mood on sexual arousal problems and sexual satisfaction in newlywed couples. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 9, 1360–1366.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. MacKinnon, D. P., Lockwood, C. M., & Williams, J. (2004). Confidence limits for the indirect effect: Distribution of the product and resampling methods. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 39, 99–128.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Muller, D., Judd, C. M., & Yzerbyt, V. Y. (2005). When moderation is mediated and mediation is moderated. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 852–863.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Petersen, J. L., & Hyde, J. S. (2010). A meta-analytic review of research on gender differences in sexuality, 1993–2007. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 21–38.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2004). SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36, 717–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rafaeli, E., Cranford, J. A., Green, A. S., Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2008). The good and bad of relationships: How social hindrance and social support affect relationship moods in daily life. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1703–1718.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rehman, U. S., Fallis, E. E., & Byers, E. S. (2013). Sexual satisfaction in heterosexual women. In D. Catande (Ed.), An essential handbook of women’s sexuality (pp. 25–45). Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  42. Reis, H. T. (2003). A self-report measure of perceived partner responsiveness. Unpublished manuscript, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY.Google Scholar
  43. Reis, H. T. (2007). Steps toward the ripening of relationship science. Personal Relationships, 14, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Reis, H. T., & Clark, M. S. (2013). Responsiveness. In J. A. Simpson & L. Campbell (Eds.), Oxford handbook of close relationships (pp. 400–423). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Reis, H. T., Clark, M. S., & Holmes, J. G. (2004). Perceived partner responsiveness as an organizing construct in the study of intimacy and closeness. In D. J. Mashek & A. P. Aron (Eds.), Handbook of closeness and intimacy (pp. 201–225). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar
  46. Rosen, R. C., Shifren, J. L., Monz, B. U., Odom, D. M., Russo, P. A., & Johannes, C. B. (2009). Original research—epidemiology: Correlates of sexually related personal distress in women with low sexual desire. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 6, 1549–1560.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Scheele, D., Wille, A., Kendrick, K. M., Stoffel-Wagner, B., Becker, B., Güntürkün, O., … Hurlemann, R. (2013). Oxytocin enhances brain reward system responses in men viewing the face of their female partner. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110, 20308–20313.Google Scholar
  48. Schneiderman, I., Zagoory-Sharon, O., Leckman, J. F., & Feldman, R. (2012). Oxytocin during the initial stages of romantic attachment: Relations to couples’ interactive reciprocity. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37, 1277–1285.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schwartz, P., & Young, L. (2009). Sexual satisfaction in committed relationships. Sexuality Research & Social Policy, 6, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Shackelford, T. K. (2001). Self-esteem in marriage. Personality and Individual Differences, 30, 371–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2002). Mediation in experimental and nonexperimental studies: New procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods, 7, 422–445.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Smith, A., Lyons, A., Ferris, J., Richters, J., Pitts, M., Shelley, J., & Simpson, J. M. (2011). Sexual and relationship satisfaction among heterosexual men and women: The importance of desired frequency of sex. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 37, 104–115.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Spanier, G. B. (1976). Measuring dyadic adjustment: New scales for assessing the quality of marriage and similar dyads. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 38, 15–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sprecher, S. (1998). Social exchange theories and sexuality. Journal of Sex Research, 35, 32–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sprecher, S. (2002). Sexual satisfaction in premarital relationships: Associations with satisfaction, love, commitment, and stability. Journal of Sex Research, 39, 190–196.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Stanik, C. E., & Bryant, C. M. (2012). Sexual satisfaction, perceived availability of alternative partners, and marital quality in newlywed African American couples. Journal of Sex Research, 49, 400–407.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Story, L. B., & Repetti, R. (2006). Daily occupational stressors and marital behavior. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 690–700.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Waite, L. J., & Joyner, K. (2001). Emotional satisfaction and physical pleasure in sexual unions: Time horizon, sexual behavior, and sexual exclusivity. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 247–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yeh, H. C., Lorenz, F., Wickrama, K. A. S., Conger, R. D., & Elder, G. H. (2006). Relationships among sexual satisfaction, marital quality, and marital instability at midlife. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 339–343.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zhang, Z., Zyphur, M. J., & Preacher, K. J. (2009). Testing multilevel mediation using hierarchical linear models problems and solutions. Organizational Research Methods, 12, 695–719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reuma Gadassi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lior Eadan Bar-Nahum
    • 1
  • Sarah Newhouse
    • 2
  • Ragnar Anderson
    • 3
  • Julia R. Heiman
    • 4
  • Eshkol Rafaeli
    • 1
    • 5
  • Erick Janssen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Gonda Multidisciplinary Neuroscience CenterBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  2. 2.Kinsey InstituteIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.Guttmacher InstituteNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Kinsey Institute and Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Psychology, Barnard CollegeColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations