It didn’t make a lot of headlines, but a Brigham Young University study found a correlation between delaying sex and a longer-lasting marriage.
… researchers surveyed more than 2,000 couples, ranging in age from 19 to 71 years, and found that communication, sexual quality, perceived stability and relationship satisfaction were better for those couples who had waited until after marriage to consummate their relationship.
The bottom line from the study seems to be that if you want to give marriage the best chance of survival, it’s best to make each other wait. The academics who pioneered the study did so because of a lack of empirical data on how the timing of sex between a couple impacts on the longevity of a marriage.
This is the first study of its kind, so more research is required for stronger conclusions. It is nevertheless an interesting finding in a sex-saturated society searching for reasons behind the decline in marriage and widespread divorce.
The most interesting angle of this article in IrishTimes.com, are the interviews of Irish couples who were virgins at marriage. One of the women acknowledged that human logic doesn’t always equal the best outcome.
Logically it seems like a good idea to have sex before marriage and even live together to see if you are a compatible couple. … But from my own personal observations, it seems to me those kind of relationships seem to have more difficulties. They don’t go the distance. Why? I’m sure there are many factors. Relationships are complex, but I know I wanted to do whatever I could to give the best start to our marriage. For us, that meant waiting to have sex until after we said, ‘I do’.”
We are surrounded with daily reminders that behavior without restraint—from over-spending to sex—comes with predictable and negative consequences. It’s good to see this early research finding that restrained sexual behavior has a positive effect on a couple’s marriage, as well as to any children born to them who would reap the benefits of their stable relationship.