Beyond Satisfaction: The Role of Attachment in Marital Functioning


Department of Human Development, Cornell University, G94 Martha van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853 (


In this article, we investigate marital functioning from an attachment theory perspective. We review empirical evidence showing that, in nondistressed marriages, spouses, as attachment figures, provide each other with a subjective sense of felt security, regulate each other's affective and physiological states, and facilitate each other's functioning outside the relationship, especially with respect to exploratory behaviors. These provisions of the attachment bond occur independent of the level of satisfaction experienced in the marriage and may even occur when the marital relationship itself is not very satisfying. In addition, we discuss the role of attachment style in marital functioning. We conclude by suggesting future directions in which an attachment theory perspective may complement existing theory and research in marital relations.