Marital happiness dating patterns
Early sex creates a sort of counterfeit intimacythat makes two people think they are closer to each other than they really are.This can cause people to “fall in love” with, and possibly even marry, someone who is not a good choice for them in the long run.
In fact, couples who wait until marriage to have sex report higher relationship satisfaction (20% higher), better communication patterns (12% better), less consideration of divorce (22% lower), and better sexual quality (15% better) than those who started having sex early in their dating (see Figure 2).These are important questions to ask since most single adults report that they desire to one day have a successful, lifelong marriage—and while dating, many couples move rapidly into sexual relationships. Couples who do nottest their sexual chemistry prior to the commitments of exclusivity, engagement, and marriage are often seen as putting themselves at risk of getting into a relationship that will not satisfy them in the future—thus increasing their probability of later marital dissatisfaction and divorce.In fact, as noted in Figure 1, recent studies have found that between 30 and 40% of dating and married couples report having sex within one month of the start of their relationship, and the numbers are even higher for currently cohabiting couples. However, two recently published studies call into question the validity of testing sexual chemistry early in dating. This study involved a national sample of 2,035 married individuals who participated in the popular online couple assessment survey called “RELATE.” We found that the longer a dating couple waits to have sex, the better their relationship is after marriage.Cross-lagged panel models were used to examine: a) associations between couple dissatisfaction and demand-withdraw, specifically testing for the direction of effects b) whether these relations were moderated by relationship duration (four groups were formed based on relationship length: young; stable young; stable mature; old).Results demonstrated that: a) the demand-withdraw pattern and couple dissatisfaction were associated both concurrently and longitudinally and couple dissatisfaction was a predictor of the demand-withdraw pattern for all participants, with the only exception of the young women group; b) relationship duration moderated the association between demand-withdraw and dissatisfaction only for women.The present study examined concurrent and longitudinal association between demand-withdraw pattern and couple dissatisfaction in a sample of 176 couples with a wide range of relationship duration (1 to 55 years).
Couples provided data on two occasions (4-month interval).
However, longitudinal associations between the two constructs are less robust.
Moreover, existing research has been overwhelmingly conducted with relatively young couples, overlooking the differences that may exist between young and well- established marriages.
To compare these three groups, the authors conducted a Multivariate Analysis of Covariance controlling for religiosity, relationship length, education, and the number of sexual partners.
The results from the MANCOVA indicated that Sexual Timing Group and Gender had a significant effect on the dependent variables while holding the control variables constant.
For couples in between—those that became sexually involved later in their dating, but prior to marriage—the benefits were about half as strong.