What is key to a happy marriage? According to a new report from the National Marriage Project's Galena K. Rhoads and Scott M. Stanley, sexual abstinence, a lack of cohabitation, and the sense of community and responsibility given by a large wedding.
The study, which looked at the marriages of 418 people from the Relationship Development Study (RDS), "examined the history of the spouses’ relationship, looked at their prior romantic experiences, and asked them about the quality of their marriages." The 418 people entered the RDS between 2007 and 2008, and were part of a larger group of 18 to 34-year old Americans who were in relationships but unmarried when the study began.
According to the authors, the study found that pre-marital sex was often problematic. They found that people who had no sexual partners besides their spouse “reported higher marital quality than those who had other sexual partners as well."
For those who had more than one sex partner, women who had fewer premarital sexual relationships enjoyed "higher marital quality."
The researchers concluded that those marriages that began with the couples “hooking up” had lower levels of happiness when they did eventually marry.
Cohabitation, or living together before marriage, also exerted a negative impact on future marriage. The authors found that “those who lived with their eventual spouse before having a mutual and clear commitment to marry reported lower levels of marital quality than those who waited until after planning marriage or getting married to move in together.”
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