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Frequent Sex Linked to Marital Happiness for Neurotic Couples

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Marital Happiness

Couples who have neurotic personalities that can often lead to divorce fare better when they have frequent sex find researchers from the University of Tennessee. The scientists say neurotic couples often have more difficulty in marital relationships and they wanted to know if having frequent sex could eliminate the negative effects of neuroticism within a marriage.

Frequent Sex Seems to Protect Neurotic Married Couples

The researchers found marital satisfaction is not always dependent on sexual frequency, with the exception of spouses who are highly neurotic. The authors content, "Frequent sex is one way that some neurotic people are able to maintain satisfying relationships", based on a study of 72 newlywed couples.

Neuroticism, characterized by moodiness, getting upset frequently, worrying and negative emotion is associated with less satisfaction in relationships and romance. In the study, researchers followed newlywed couples for four years who separately and privately reported how often they had sex and how satisfied they were with their marriage.

Marital satisfaction was measured when both spouses agreed they "have a good marriage" and "My relationship with my partner makes me happy.: The researchers say for most, being happy in a marriage was not dependent on frequent sex–except for neurotic couples. Average frequency of sexual intercourse once a week during the first six months of marriage, and 3 times a month after 4 years of marriage.

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Happily married couples sometimes reported frequent sex and sometimes levels were low. Neurotic couples were different. The researchers say having sex often wiped out the "happiness deficit" experienced by neurotic couples. The study found frequent sex seems to protect neurotic couples and keeps marriage happy.

The researchers noted it might not have been the sex alone that lead to more happiness for neurotic spouses. Initial findings failed to show other factors such as improved communication between partners. The authors write …"it remains possible that changes in sexual frequency led to changes in relationship quality that accounted for these effects."

Limitations of the study include the novelty of being a newlywed and the sampling of participants who were Caucasian and Christian and may not apply to other populations. The authors write…"several factors limit interpretations and generalizations of these findings until they can be replicated and extended."

The authors recommend more studies to understand other mechanisms that make neurotic newlyweds happier. The increased marriage satisfaction and happiness shown in the current study was linked to frequent sex, but should be interpreted with caution.

Social Psychology & Personality Science: doi: 10.1177/1948550610387162