Cohabiting couples ‘less sexually satisfied’ in first years of marriage: study


Couples who live together before getting married had less frequent sex and had lower levels of overall sexual satisfaction than married couples who did not live together before tying the knot, according to a recent study.

The Journal of Sex Research published a study in December titled “Associations Between Premarital Factors and First-Married, Heterosexual Newlywed Couples’ Frequency of Sex and Sexual Satisfaction Trajectories.”

The study, by Emma Altgelt and Andrea Meltzer, both of the Department of Psychology of Florida State University.

According to the Abstract, the researchers wanted to see what impact cohabitation and “courtship duration” had on sexual relationships during the first few years of marriage.

“Using a 4-year longitudinal study of newlywed couples, results demonstrated that couples with longer (versus shorter) courtships or who did (versus did not) cohabit engaged in less frequent sex at the start of marriage,” the Abstract stated in part.

“Couples who did (versus did not) cohabit were less sexually satisfied initially and over time; couples with longer (versus shorter) courtships experienced less steep declines in sexual satisfaction over time.”

In an interview with PsyPost published last week, Altgelt explained that “life choices that predate couples’ wedding day (e.g., courtship duration, cohabiting, having children) seem to matter for their sexual relationship during the early years of marriage.”

Altgelt warned that her study did not include experimental data, as they were “ethically unable to manipulate couples’ premarital factors.”

“For this reason, we cannot claim that these premarital factors cause changes in couples’ sexual relationships during marriage,” she told PsyPost.

“Nevertheless, our research offers valuable insight into newlywed relationships — particularly their sexual functioning.”

The research of Altgelt and Meltzer is not the only recent study indicating negative side-effects for couple who cohabitate before marriage.

In September 2018, the Journal of Marriage and Family published a study indicating that married couples who cohabitated before their wedding were at a greater risk of divorce.

The 2018 study by Michael Rosenfeld and Katharina Roesler found that while cohabitating couples had stronger unions for the first year of marriage, afterward the stability declined.

“The normalization hypothesis argues that as the formerly rare and stigmatized status of premarital cohabitation became dramatically more common, the penalty in higher marital dissolution rates for former cohabiters should have diminished,” said Rosenfeld and Roesler.

“Instead of convergence over time, we find that the marital stability disadvantage of premarital cohabitation emerges most strongly after 5 years of marital duration and has remained roughly constant over time and over marriage cohorts.”

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