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According to this study, fewer previous sex partners make for a happier marriage

circa 1955: A married couple contemplating divorce.
circa 1955: A married couple contemplating divorce.
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According to a recent study, Americans who have only had sex with their spouse are more likely to say they’re “very happy” in their marriages than those who’ve slept with more partners.

The lowest satisfaction is reported by women who’ve slept with six to 10 partners. While the study finds correlation between the number of an individual’s sex partners and their reported marital happiness, it does not imply causation, so there’s room to speculate. Perhaps people who choose not to have sex before marriage also value marriage more highly and are therefore more committed.

Or perhaps, as pointed out in this Atlantic piece, people who’ve only slept with their spouses are less likely to yearn for what they’re missing, since they have no other experiences with which to compare their marriage.

Have you found this correlation to be true in your life? How has your number of previous sex partners affected your marriage, if at all? If you and your spouse came into the marriage with a disparity in your number of previous sex partners, how has it impacted your relationship?


Nick Wolfinger, professor of family consumer studies and adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Utah; he is the author of the study “Does Sexual History Affect Marital Happiness?” which was published by the Institute for Family Studies, a think tank that aims to strengthen marriage; he tweets @NickWolfinger