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Delaying sex strengthens marriage

Journal of Family Psychology

Delaying sex strengthens marriage

Having sex early in a relationship may lead to less satisfying marriages because couples can fail to develop important skills to communicate well and resolve conflicts.

Why would rushing into intimacy impede marital happiness? People who quickly become intimate may end up marrying even if they're incompatible because they become entangled in a relationship that becomes difficult to end.

Trying to find out if the timing of sex in a relationship had a lasting impact on the eventual marriages, the researchers divided 2,035 participants in America into three groups: those who had sex within a month of meeting (776), those who had sex after a month but within two years (923), and those who waited until they were married (336) to have sex.

It was found that the longer sex was delayed, the more participants in the study reported better quality of sex, communication, relationship satisfaction and perceived relationship stability. They also were generally more satisfied with their marriages. Waiting until marriage to have sex had the strongest correlations with positive outcomes.

The study was controlled to eliminate the influence of factors that could impact the timing of sexual intimacy, such as religion, education, relationship length and the number of previous sexual partners. The researchers cited relationship inertia, a theory from earlier research, as a reason poorly matched couples stay together. As time goes on, partners feel constrained by the complexities of the situation when they may have more wisely parted company. But they also cautioned against concluding that premarital sex necessarily leads to a bad marriage, however. Just because someone has sex early in a relationship doesn't mean the marriage is doomed.

A sexual relationship between two people is best learned, rather than simply graded. A good marriage - including the sex - is something that's built. It doesn't come prefabricated.  Therefore, the take-home message is that sex is a powerful experience. It really bonds us to one another and so it may be important before we go down that road to take the time to see if you can talk to this other person - see if you have similar personalities and similar directions in life - to see whether or not this is a relationship that can last.

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