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 differenc
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