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Sexual frequency is a telltale for the health of a relationship

And it’s different in a marriage than cohabitation – a lot different

The outcome of most research approximates this rule of thumb: 80% of the findings confirm what we already knew; 10% confirms what we thought we knew; and 10% tells us something we didn’t know. And the insights are in the last 10%. Such is the case in this study, Sexual Frequency and the Stability of Marital and Cohabiting Unions.

Sexual activity is higher in cohabitation, at about 12 times per month compared to only 7 times per month for marriages.

The title alone leads to one nodding her or his head and saying, ‘Yeah, no shit. If the sex declines the relationship is in trouble.’ We all already know that. But the insight is in the 10+10% (the thought we knew or didn’t know), a decline in sex in a marriage is not as strong a predictor of break up as in co-habitation. So if you’re cohabiting and your sexual activity is declining, break up could be more likely; however, if you’re married, relax, odds are in your favor you can fix it – twice a week makes you ‘average,’ not that anyone wants to be average when it comes to sex.

Sexual frequency in marriage is less important than it is in cohabitation.

The higher frequency of sexual activity in cohabitation versus marriage shouldn’t be a surprise, what with most cohabitors being younger, fewer with kids and other marital distractions. But they have to keep it up because dipping below the average could be a telltale of dissatisfaction and other problems, which lead to dissolution.

Obviously, everyone is different but after settling into a relationship, married or not, most couples have their own ‘average’ and that should be the benchmark. Not dipping below your own average will mean less chance of breakup. And marriage itself, despite all its entanglements (finance, religion, children), eventually doesn’t protect the relationship if the sex declines.

The loss of sex is a losing battle.

When partners have higher sexual frequency, the rate of cohabitation dissolution is significantly lower.

For those who are curious enough, and information addicts, you can read the theory, statistics and graphs in the study, for which we have inserted a link to a  downloadable .pdf file.

Sexuality occupies a more prominent role in cohabitation than marriage, and poor sexuality within cohabitation is more likely to lead to dissolution.

Sexual Frequency study

The study really just confirms what we thought we knew, but it’s an important confirmation. Because without the bonds and vows of marriage, cohabitation has a much greater chance of ending when the sex declines.

So if you’re cohabiting but aren’t ready for either breakup or marriage, don’t let the frequency of your sexual activity decline.

The cautionary operating principle is: “Keep it up!”

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