The Process of Intimacy: Similarity, Understanding and Gender

Bryn Mawr College, USA.
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy (Impact Factor: 1.01). 07/1998; 24(3):273-88. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.1998.tb01085.x
Source: PubMed


This study examined gender and three aspects of marital intimacy using a method to establish both objective and subjective indices of intimacy. Fifty couples answered the Personal Assessment of Intimate Relationships (Schaefer & Olson, 1981) twice: once as a self-report and once to respond as they predicted their spouses would answer. Couples who were less accurate in predicting each other's responses also diverged in their experience of intimacy and reported lower intimacy. Results suggest that high intimacy is based on both understanding and similarity of intimate experience. Women reported significantly higher levels of intimacy and were also better than men in predicting their partners' feelings. These findings suggest that women may be more attuned to intimacy or that definitions and assessment of intimacy are gender biased or both.

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    • "Given the persuasive literature showing that lack of consensus in marriage is associated with poorer relationship quality and psychological well-being (Deal et al., 1992; Heller & Wood, 1998), we expect that individuals who offer marital assessments that diverge from those of their spouse will differ from those offering concordant assessments with respect to symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger, and yearning 6 months after loss. We propose further that the psychological consequences of discrepant assessments will vary on the basis of whether one offers a more or less positive assessment than one's spouse. "
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    ABSTRACT: We use prospective couple-level data from the Changing Lives of Older Couples to assess the extent to which spouses concur in their assessments of marital quality (N = 844) and whether discrepancies in spouses' marital assessments affect the bereaved spouse's psychological adjustment 6 months after loss (n = 105). Spouses' assessments of marital quality are correlated modestly (r = .45), with women offering less positive assessments. Bereaved persons who had rated their marriages more positively than their spouse at the preloss interview reported higher levels of anger 6 months postloss. We conclude that persons who offer more positive appraisals of their marriages than their spouse may view spousal loss as a particularly unjust event. We discuss implications for understanding late life marriage and spousal bereavement.
    Journal of Marriage and Family 08/2009; 71(3):495-509. DOI:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2009.00615.x · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    • "Several empirical investigations reveal that women report higher intimacy levels than men. Heller and Wood (1998) found that wives had higher intimacy levels on a self-report measure of intimacy than their husbands and were more accurate in predicting their partner's feelings on the same measure. Similarly, Montgomery (2005) reported higher levels of intimacy across age groups for females from middle school through college. "
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    ABSTRACT: Using an Eriksonian-based measure (Erikson, 1963), the Inventory of Psychosocial Development (Constantinople, 1969), this longitudinal U.S. study explored the extent to which an individual's potential for intimacy in young adulthood predicted divorce by midlife. Intimacy was defined as the potential to establish close relationships involving high levels of communication, closeness, and commitment. Marital status 34 years after college graduation was obtained from 167 participants (M age = 55.1 years, 60% male, 30% divorced) originally tested in college in 1966-68 in the United States. Hierarchical logistic regression revealed a significant Gender X Intimacy interaction in predicting marital status at midlife. Women but not men with low intimacy in college had higher risk of divorce in midlife in the sample.
    Personal Relationships 12/2008; 15(4):551-557. DOI:10.1111/j.1475-6811.2008.00215.x · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    • "Cancian (1986; cf. Heller & Wood, 1998) reinforces a gendered view of intimacy stating that women's intimate preferences include emotional closeness and emotional interdependence through disclosure (Heller & Wood, 1998). Although the conceptualisation of intimacy varies greatly, the literature does not substantively reflect the meanings and experiences for women with AN. "
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    ABSTRACT: Intimacy is considered as an essential aspect of ‘ideal’ romantic relationships and Western culture, in particular, places a strong emphasis on its value. Despite this, intimacy has been largely unexamined for women with anorexia nervosa (AN). This phenomenological study sought to describe the subjective experiences of intimacy for this group of women; a purposive sample of 11 participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Whereas previous research has drawn little attention to the contextual factors that support intimate and non-intimate experiences for women with AN, participants in this study were able to identify what intimacy meant to them, their experiences with intimacy and what they needed within their romantic relationships to be intimate. The women's meanings and experiences with intimacy were consistent with generalized conceptualizations of emotional and physical closeness, and companionship through parenting. These findings augment current research, and may better assist in tailoring specific interventions to foster intimacy and minimize impediments to intimacy. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.
    European Eating Disorders Review 01/2006; 14(1):43 - 53. DOI:10.1002/erv.669 · 2.46 Impact Factor
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