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Abstract

This research tested the proposition that attachment and caregiving are central, interrelated components of adult love relationships. A sample of 229 married couples was used to assess the association between attachment and caregiving styles and the implications of these variables for marital satisfaction. There was evidence of partner matching in terms of dimensions of attachment (Comfort with closeness, Anxiety over relationships) and caregiving (Responsive care, Compulsive care). Secure attachment (high Comfort with closeness, low Anxiety over relationships) was associated with beneficial caregiving to the spouse (high Responsive care, low Compulsive care). These associations were modest in size, however, suggesting that attachment and caregiving are separate constructs; further, these constructs were related in different ways to retrospective reports of early parenting. Marital satisfaction was higher for securely attached spouses, and for those whose partners reported more beneficial caregiving. For husbands, however, the link between caregiving and satisfaction was restricted to short-term marriages, and to those high in Anxiety over relationships. Overall, the results support the role of attachment and caregiving in marriage, but suggest that variables such as gender have important moderating effects.