Similarities in right and lesbian women’s narratives


This research desired to deal with gaps in understanding of midlife women’s experiences and interpretations of sexual alterations in light of social norms and relational contexts. To fill these gaps, we analyzed in-depth interviews with straight and lesbian couples that are married. Our findings offer three contributions that are key. First, similarities in women’s narratives reveal just how these females experienced midlife events as constraining intercourse and exactly how lesbian and right married females received convenience through the marital intimate norm of less intercourse with time. 2nd, lesbian partners’ relational context uniquely seemed to both enhance closeness between partners navigating modification and enhance force to “work on” intercourse. Finally, stigmatized lesbian sexuality seemed to increase stress associated with diminishing intercourse and midlife modifications. Next we highlight how similarities and differences when considering right and lesbian partners increase information about sex and intercourse in wedding and suggest essential avenues for future research.

Similarities in right and lesbian ladies’ narratives illuminate just exactly exactly how m >2005 , Dzara, 2010 ; Lindau & Gavrilova, 2010 ; Lindau et al., 2007 ) and expand our knowledge of just just how married women interpret change that is sexual link with social norms beyond the right context (see Carpenter, Nathanson, & Kim, 2006 ; Crawford & Popp, 2003 ; Elliott & Umberson, 2008 ; Lodge & Umberson, 2012 ; Umberson et al., 2015 ). In specific, women who reported chronic discomfort said that their partners avoided sex as a result of the spouse’s anxiety about causing extra discomfort. In addition, ladies framed medical and interventions that are medical having diminished their sexual drive. Both right and lesbian females received comfort through the straight norm that is marital“like any married couple”) that intercourse typically decreases in wedding with advancing age while the passage the full time. This script did actually enable both straight and women that are lesbian view less intercourse as normal and therefore less upsetting. For scientists and clinicians supporting ladies in midlife, these procedures and structures suggest essential points of intervention. Interventions made to ameliorate the effect of chronic discomfort on ladies’ life should focus on intimate relationships and incorporate a relational approach that centers on ladies’ lovers and their fears about inducing pain. In addition, framing women’s experiences as typical can help ameliorate distress regarding reduced intercourse.

Although commonalities in right and women that are lesbian narratives recommend similarities in just just exactly how ladies interpret alterations in intercourse in light.

Lesbians interpreted their and their partners’ comparable embodied experiences in m >1983 ). This choosing shows that lesbian spouses’ shared embodied experiences of m >2012 ) discovering that in midlife, husbands frequently express diminished need for sex, which distresses ladies by disrupting their capability to perform emphasized femininity successfully.

Nevertheless, only a few differences when considering right and narratives that are lesbian lesbians’ relational context as beneficial for navigating m >2009 ). Last research shows that, in comparison to right and homosexual married couples, lesbian married couples perform more intensive caregiving that is intergenerational both partner’s moms and dads (Reczek & Umberson, 2016 )—a pattern theorized to result from social norms positioning ladies as caregivers, which doubly impacts lesbian partnerships because both partners are ladies. This choosing shows that due to their gendered relational context, lesbians’ intimate relationships could be disadvantaged by their disproportionate performance of intergenerational caregiving in accordance with right partners.

In addition, we found that—when compared with straight couples—lesbian couples expressed a greater feeling of responsibility to keep their intimate relationships, which illuminates one of the ways that alterations in intercourse may produce more stress for lesbians than many other females. This finding aligns with studies showing that lesbian partners perform more relationship that is intensive in accordance with right partners and expands this pattern to add work undertaken to steadfastly keep up, enhance the quality, or raise the volume of intercourse with spouses (Reczek & Umberson, 2012; Umberson et al., 2015 ). We theorize that this choosing outcomes in part from lesbian partners’ demonstrated anxiety about sustaining relationship that is high, most likely because of gendered social objectives of females as in charge of keeping social relationships through the disproportionate performance of work, such as for example psychological work (see Elliott & Umberson, 2008 ), which can be doubled into the context of females hitched to females (see Umberson et al., 2015 ). Nonetheless, whereas Elliott and Umberson’s ( 2008 ) research discovered that right females performed significant emotional work in an endeavor to fit husbands’ greater sex drives, this dynamic ended up being mostly missing inside our interviews. Our test of right spouses was more egalitarian or held more modern views on sex compared to guys in Elliott and Umberson’s ( 2008 ) test because our test ended up being mostly recruited from the social support systems of homosexual and lesbian partners and ten years has passed away involving the two studies. Our findings do overlap utilizing the findings of research on performance of desire that suggest that stress to keep up relationships that are sexual be distressful (Elliott & Umberson, 2008 ; Lodge & Umberson, 2012 ; Umberson et al., 2015 ). Furthermore, our outcomes declare that lesbian partners may perform more intensive social and work that is intrapersonal component since they lack use of outside aids that straight couples utilize, such as for instance knowledgeable and sympathetic doctors. We further interpret lesbians’ improved concern about keeping intercourse as driven to some extent by stigma associated with sexuality that is lesbian.

Lesbians particularly may actually interpret their relationships in mention of the stigmatized notions of lesbian sexuality and relationships (identify 2007 ). We theorize that lesbians’ increased exposure of the negative effect of m >2015 ; Morrison, et al., 2004 ). Alternatively, lesbian females may be much more susceptible than straight ladies to distress after weight gain because general general public give attention to “lesbian obesity” has established a lesbian-specific weight stigma (McPhail & Bombak, 2014 ). Likewise, embodying multiple statuses that are stigmatizede.g., being both lesbian and fat) may increase distress (see Eliason et al., 2015 ). This possibility is supported by Lodge and Umberson’s ( 2012 ) discovering that men that are gay more distress than right males from aging-related fat gain. Furthermore, two findings declare that the normalization of diminishing sex that is marital time may well not protect lesbian couples from associated anxiety towards the exact exact same level so it protects right partners: the lesbians in our test indicated a concern with satisfying negative stereotypes of lesbian intercourse and relationships and a distinctive feeling of responsibility to help keep intercourse inside their marriages. These findings may, in change, explain why lesbian partners more intensively discussed the requirement to perform sex-related relationship work. We hence declare that scholars cons >2012 ). The results of sex-related anxiety and relationship work and any factors which will prevent such anxiety or work also warrant attention in the future research.


A few areas of this research limitation the generalizability of our findings and point out crucial subjects for inquiry. First, our test includes mainly white, extremely educated, cisgender ladies who have actually higher-than-average incomes. Our information don’t provide understanding of exactly exactly just how battle, >2005 ), therefore future research might ask how race- and >2014 ) move sexual objectives? 2nd, since the initial study had been worried about a w >2000 ). During the exact same time, our understanding of just just just what real acts ladies considered to be “sex” is bound, and thus we have no idea whether right and lesbian ladies’ definitions of sexual intercourse shaped the way they made feeling of modification. As an example, some ladies stated that changes particular to genitalia constrained intercourse, which raises the chance that ladies who choose sexual activity that relies less in the genitalia of both partners undertake different types of work or experience less stress.

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