Love, marriage, sex: Still the best order of events
BYU had a news release recently that drew an interesting conclusion: Trying out a potential marriage partner like you might try out a car before buying it is NOT a good idea or a prudent decision.
The “prevailing wisdom” in the world today is that it is a bit foolish and impulsive to just marry someone you have never lived with, hoping you will be compatible.
Why not cohabitate for a while and test each other out before tying the knot?
While there are still couples who wait for a deep level of commitment before having sex, today it’s far more common for two people to explore their sexual compatibility before making long-term plans together.
So which approach or method leads to better marriages?
Sex and cohabitation before marriage or delaying them both until after marriage?
A new study in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology sides with a delayed approach.
The study involves 2,035 married individuals who participated in a popular online marital assessment called “RELATE.”
From the assessment’s database, researchers selected a sample designed to match the demographics of the married American population.
The extensive questionnaire includes the question “When did you become sexual in this relationship?”
A statistical analysis showed the following benefits enjoyed by couples who waited until marriage compared to those who started having sex in the early part of their relationship:
Relationship stability was rated 22 percent higher
Relationship satisfaction was rated 20 percent higher
Sexual quality of the relationship was rated 15 percent better
Communication was rated 12 percent better
For couples in between — those that became sexually involved later in the relationship but prior to marriage — the benefits were about half as strong.
In other words, to put it bluntly, the longer you wait, the longer your marriage will last, and the better it will be.
“There’s more to a relationship than sex, but we did find that those who waited longer were happier with the sexual aspect of their relationship,” said lead author Dean Busby, a professor at BYU in the School of Family Life.
“I think it’s because they’ve learned to talk and have the skills to work with issues that come up.”
Sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved with this research, read the study and shared his take on the findings.
“Couples who hit the honeymoon too early — that is, prioritize sex promptly at the outset of a relationship — often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy,” said Regnerus, author of “Premarital Sex in America,” a book from Oxford University Press.