Looking at survey results collected at four time points over 13 years of marriage, researchers ("Do Men and Women Show Love Differently in Marriage?" Schoenfeld et al., Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, November 2012) found that while both genders were equally likely to show love through affection, wives expressed love by being less antagonistic while husbands showed love by initiating sex or sharing activities together.
In Western societies, the cultural myth is that women in romantic relationships are more adept at expressing love than men. Men can't catch a break, it seems, but psychologists are on the case and recently examined the widely-embraced premise that men and women “love differently” and sought to tackle it empirically.
They collected survey data four times over 13 years of marriage and then examined whether either men and women really showed a distinction, with one gender being more expressive, or if love is simply associated with different behaviors for husbands and wives. Their multilevel analyses revealed that, counter to long-held assumptions and therefore cultural expectations, both genders were equally likely to show love through affection, they just did it differently.
The difference? Wives expressed love by enacting fewer negative or antagonistic behaviors while husbands showed love by initiating sex, sharing leisure activities like hobbies and doing household work together with their wives.
Overall, the findings indicate that men and women show their love in more nuanced ways than cultural stereotypes suggest.
So wives, if your husband is asking for sex again, he is just showing you how much he cares. Wives, let him watch the game in peace to show you do too.
Citation: Elizabeth A. Schoenfeld, Carrie A. Bredow, Ted L. Huston, 'Do Men and Women Show Love Differently in Marriage?', Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin Published online before print June 18, 2012 doi: 10.1177/0146167212450739