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Wedding Band Makes Jealousy a Bigger Threat
Date:2/12/2010

Study found distrust much more damaging in marriage than in other relationships

FRIDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Jealousy can dampen romance and damage sexual intimacy, especially if it occurs within a marriage, says new research that serves as a caution for couples as Valentine's Day approaches.

"Being married may 'up the ante,' because marriages tend to have higher levels of relationship commitment and joint investments [such as children, leisure, property and social networks]," said study co-author Anthony Paik, an assistant professor in the sociology department at the University of Iowa.

The study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Sex Research, found that if jealousy wasn't a factor, three out of every four married people were highly satisfied with the emotional facets of their marriage. However, when the "green-eyed monster" entered the mix, levels of satisfaction dropped to less than half for married folk.

Jealousy didn't take quite the same toll on unmarried couples -- the study found that for these people, the odds of being very emotionally satisfied dropped only about 8 points when jealousy intervened.

For married individuals, "there is a well-defined 'psychological contract,' which includes extensive expectations and obligations," Paik said. "Breaches of those contracts elicit reactions and sanctioning behavior, the size of which depends on the amount of prior trust, commitment or investments."

Another expert agreed.

"Sexual infidelity or the suspicion of infidelity is a serious affront to any committed relationship," said Wendy M. Troxel, an assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, who studies relationship characteristics and health. "However, the stakes are even higher within the marital relationship, because the expectations concerning trust, loyalty and monogamy are often highest within married couples."


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