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Marital Satisfaction/Sexual Satisfaction (part 2).

Satisfaction in a sexual relationship is also a vital factor for creating and
maintaining a happy, satisfying, and stable marital relationship (Christopher &
Sprecher, 2000; Litzinger & Gordon, 2005; Young et al., 2000). Research has
shown that physical affection, frequency of sex, and the quality of the couple’s
sexual relationship have a great deal to do with marital satisfaction and, in
turn, help reduce marital instability (Yeh, Lorenz, Wickrama, & Conger, 2006).
First, the physical components of intimacy (e.g., physical closeness,
touching, hugs, cuddles, holding hands, etc.) are associated with greater
relationship satisfaction (Floyd et al., 2009; Floyd et al., 2005; Gulledge,
Gulledge, & Stahmann, 2003). Compared to those who have a less physically
affectionate relationship (Dainton et al., 1994), physical affection results in
positive affect (as well as reciprocal behavior) on the part of the recipient
(Patterson, 1976).
In addition, the frequency of sexual relations appears to contribute to
greater relationship stability and marital satisfaction compared to less frequent
sexual relations (Yabiku & Gager, 2009). Lower levels of sexual frequency
and/or satisfaction are associated with higher rates of marital conflict and even
divorce (Yabiku & Gager, 2011).
Finally, the quality of sexual relations is also a factor in sexual
satisfaction. Spouses who engage in more gratifying sexual interactions are
more satisfied with and dedicated to their relationships (Byers, 2005).
Fulfillment of sexual desires contributes to making a partnership more
pleasant, and the love between a couple helps make sex more gratifying
(Yucel & Gassanov, 2010). Satisfying sexual relations between a couple can
decrease the level of stress and improve one’s mood in a way that cannot be
achieved through masturbation alone (Burleson et al., 2007). Sexual
satisfaction thus increases relationship satisfaction, and vice versa (Burleson
et al., 2007).
By contrast, a dysfunctional sexual relationship between spouses can
drain the marriage of its intimacy and satisfaction (McCarthy, 2003). Sexual
dysfunction may result in such psychological symptoms as low mood, poor
self-esteem, performance anxiety, and guilt (Werneke, Northey, & Bhugra,
2006). It can also contribute to and possibly even cause depression which can
detract from marital satisfaction (Werneke, Northey, & Bhugra, 2006).
Studies have also found that while communication and sexual
satisfaction independently predict marital satisfaction, there is a significant
interaction between these two factors (Litzinger & Gordon, 2005): if there is
constructive communication between the spouses, then sexual satisfaction will
not have a significant impact on marital satisfaction, i.e., couples who have
effective communication skills will most likely feel satisfied and successful as a
couple, and their sexual relationship fails to add anything beyond their existing
level of satisfaction with their relationship. By contrast, if a couple lacks
effective communication skills but has a satisfying sexual relationship, their
degree of sexual satisfaction can overshadow a lack of communication and
they will have greater marital satisfaction than if they were to have a less
satisfying sexual relationship. Thus, sexual satisfaction can compensate for
the negative effect of unsatisfying communication on marital satisfaction
(Litzinger & Gordon, 2005).

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