Ways of giving benefits in marriage: Norm use, relationship satisfaction, and attachment-related variability

Margaret S. Clark, Edward P. Lemay, Steven M. Graham, Sherri P. Pataki, Eli J. Finkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Couples reported on bases for giving support and on relationship satisfaction just prior to and approximately 2 years into marriage. Overall, a need-based, noncontingent (communal) norm was seen as ideal and was followed, and greater use of this norm was linked to higher relationship satisfaction. An exchange norm was seen as not ideal and was followed significantly less frequently than was a communal norm; by 2 years into marriage, greater use of an exchange norm was linked with lower satisfaction. Insecure attachment predicted greater adherence to an exchange norm. Idealization of and adherence to a communal norm dropped slightly across time. As idealization of a communal norm and own use and partner use of a communal norm decreased, people high in avoidance increased their use of an exchange norm, whereas people low in avoidance decreased their use of an exchange norm. Anxious individuals evidenced tighter links between norm use and marital satisfaction relative to nonanxious individuals. Overall, a picture of people valuing a communal norm and striving toward adherence to a communal norm emerged, with secure individuals doing so with more success and equanimity across time than insecure individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-951
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Attachment styles
  • Communal norm
  • Exchange norm
  • Relationship satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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