Sexual experience and marital happiness

“There are more fish in the sea” – this phrase is accepted to say to a friend when another romantic relationship ends. However, new research shows that the more fish we catch, the less likely we are to have a happy marriage.

“In most cases, the more experience we have, the better. But apparently this rule does not work in the field of intimate relationships.

Our research showed that having a lot of intimate relationship experience before marriage lowers the chances of enjoying a happy marital relationship. ” – claims Galena K. Rhoades, professor, from the University of Denver, Colorado.

This research was conducted by Professor Rhoades and her colleague Professor Scott M. Stanley, director of the Center for Marriage and Family Studies at the University of Denver.

In their scientific work, the authors used data from an ongoing national study called the Relationship Development Study. They studied more than 1,000 Americans who were included in the national survey between 2007 and 2008, their age at the time of their inclusion in the Relationship Development Study was 18-34 years, these people were in a romantic relationship with each other, but had not entered into a formal relationship marriage.
Over a period of 5 years of observation, 418 of the participants entered into marriage. The authors concluded marriage unions with the help of surveying the participants in them. Previous experience in romantic relationships was also reported.

The authors note that they also included in the survey data on the participants’ ethnicity, income level, quality of education, religion and their participation in religious rites.

Scientists found that the more romantic and sexual relationships the participants had before getting married, the lower they rated their current marital relationship when taking the survey.

The authors of the study state: “Our results cast doubt on the adage ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,'” that is, the theory that sexual behavior during youth does not affect future marriage.


But what is the mechanism of influence of previous intimate relationships on the current marriage?

Scientists believe that a sexually experienced person tends to compare his current sexual partner with previous ones, especially in the direction of sexual skills, physical attractiveness and communication skills.

“Marriage implies a rejection of other options, but this choice is difficult to make by those who have a lot of experience and the opportunity to compare.” – the authors also point out.

Those participants who were in multiple intimate relationships at the same time also rated their satisfaction low, and such couples broke up more often than those who were more inexperienced.

In addition, a person may have certain personality traits that make his relationships with others difficult, and the older he gets, the more “clumsy” his character becomes and, accordingly, the lower the quality of his marriage.

The authors of the current study also found that women who have children from previous intimate relationships are more likely to have low marital relationship quality.

“Although the available data on the influence of children born from previous marriages on family happiness are contradictory, there is no doubt that raising these children represents an additional source of stress in the new marriage,” the scientists also point out.
Despite the findings, Rhoades and Stanley emphasize that no one is “doomed” to an unhappy marriage, there are simply a number of things people can do to increase the likelihood of having a happy marriage.

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