Gender Differences in the Link Between Marital Support and Satisfation in Older Couples

Recent work on social support in marriage indicates that the link between marital satisfaction and social support is stronger for wives than husbands (D. Julien and H. J. Markman; see record 1992-08896-001). Hypotheses based on these findings and on studies of interpersonal perception were tested on a sample of 69 older married couples (mean age 74 yrs). The separate effects of giving, receiving, and reciprocity on spouses' marital satisfaction and well-being were examined. Analyzing the data separately for husbands and wives reveals that perceptions of social support in marriage are more strongly related to the marital satisfaction and general well-being of wives than husbands. Methodological and theoretical interpretations are offered that shed light on the differences between men and women in the meaning of social support in marriage.