Sexual Intimacy, Mood, and Relationship Satisfaction after Couple Conflict: An Attachment Prespective




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Partners need to recover from their conflicts and regain their intimate bond to sustain a satisfying and stable romantic relationship. If sexual contact (which has long been linked to relationship satisfaction) occurs after couple conflict, it may hasten post-conflict reconciliations by reducing negative emotions and behaviors and enhancing positive ones. The current study was designed to explore the effects of sexual experiences between romantic partners on their emotional recoveries from their conflicts, especially among romantic partners with higher levels of attachment insecurity. In a 3-week diary study, cohabiting couples (N=115) reported on their daily interactions with their romantic partners to address the following questions: (1) what is the impact of post-conflict sexual intimacy on couple partners’ moods and relationship satisfaction following conflict, and (2) what is the impact of sexual contact after conflict on the expected negative association between attachment insecurity and emotional recovery from conflict between romantic partners. Results indicated that sexual contact after conflict helps romantic partners regain their daily relationship satisfaction, but does not moderate the association between attachment insecurity and post-conflict recovery. Findings from this study can be applied in couple therapy, as it is the unresolved and lingering effects of conflicts that often bring individuals to marital counseling.



Intimacy (Psychology), Couples therapy, Attachment behavior, Conflict management, Marital conflict, Reconciliation