July 31st 2012

Love Knows No Gender Difference

By By Barbara Bronson Gray HealthDay  Reporter, HealthDay Jul. 31, 2012 11:14AM PDTJul. 31, 2012 11:14AM
 
 
TUESDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) — Think married men and women  show their love in vastly different ways? Not necessarily.

Although popular culture reinforces the stereotype that there’s a  gender gap when it comes to expressing affection, few studies have  actually tested the notion.

A small new study suggests, however, that men are just as likely as  women to be openly affectionate. The study, which also identified some  differences between the sexes, was published recently in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

“Men and women are actually more similar in the ways they express love  than they are different,” said study author Elizabeth Schoenfeld, a  researcher at the University of Texas in Austin. “But we also learned  that, even in the wake of feminism, wives express love by being less  assertive and more accommodating, while husbands show love by initiating  sex or sharing activities together.”

The study involved 168 couples in first marriages living in rural  central Pennsylvania. Data was collected in initial interviews, followed  by telephone interviews in which husbands and wives separately reported  activities and interactions. The interviews occurred within two months of  when each couple was married and then annually, with a final set of  interviews conducted after 13 years of marriage.

At the conclusion of the study, 105 of the original couples were still  married, three were widowed and 56 were divorced. Almost all of the  participants were white, and more than half had a high school  education.

Contrary to some common gender stereotypes, the research showed that  the more men loved their wives, the more likely they were to be  affectionate. They were also more likely to involve their spouses in their  leisure activities and in household chores. Love did not, however, mean a  husband did more chores around the house or was more eager to relieve his  wife of the chores for which she was responsible.

The researchers found, in general, that a husband’s love may create an  environment in which the couple does a variety of things together. The  more husbands loved their wives, the more likely they were to initiate  sex. For wives, though, increased love for their husbands meant they were  actually less likely to make the first move.

Why would that be? “If a wife is feeling unloved, it could be that she  is attempting to kick-start the marriage,” Schoenfeld said.

Wives’ love was less associated with interest in joint activities, and  relied more on expressions of love. More love also was associated with  greater accommodation to husbands’ moods and needs.

“Biting their tongues, letting men initiate sex more often, showing a  willingness to allow men to assert themselves a little more — this is  what we saw when women were more in love,” Schoenfeld explained.

Some experts believe differences between men and women in marriage are  typically overemphasized.

“There aren’t too many real gender and sex differences between men and  women on the whole,” said Stevie Yap, a researcher in the department of  psychology at Michigan State University in East Lansing. “If you look at  the overall research, gender differences don’t usually hold up.”

Yap, who recently published research on happiness and marriage in the Journal of Research and Personality, found that although matrimony  doesn’t tend to make people happier than they were when they were single,  it appears to protect against declines in happiness that can occur in  adulthood.

Yap said only a few gender differences actually have been shown by  research to be real: men tend to be physically stronger and more sexually  active, and have a greater tendency toward aggression. He said that even  these three characteristics, however, can be affected by socialization and  experience.

Schoenfeld, too, thinks differences between the sexes have been  exaggerated.

“Don’t be fooled by popular stereotypes,” she said. “Men are not from  Mars and women are not from Venus. We are all on planet Earth.”

More information

For more on marriage, visit the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center.

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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About KathyBlanchard, Realtor

I am a full service Realtor in Newberg, Oregon. I specialize in Yamhill County, but I can work anywhere in Oregon for your relocation needs. My family moved to this beautiful wine country in 2008 and love it here. I have a love for the history and mystery in old homes. My husband and I play golf and have logged many thousands of miles on a motorcycle.
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