How Does the Quality of a Couple’s Sex Life Impact Divorce?

How Does the Quality of a Couple’s Sex Life Impact Divorce?

You would think that by now, social scientists would have given us clear answers about whether the quality of a couple’s sex life makes them more or less likely to divorce, but the issue remains unclear. A few years ago, Kristina Dzara, at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, examined newly married couples’ sex lives using three metrics: frequency, satisfaction, and agreement between the spouses, and applied these metrics to predict divorce by the fifth year of marriage. Her findings showed:

  • Frequency of sexual intercourse — This had no bearing on divorce.
  • Sexual satisfaction — Reduced the probability of divorce for wives, but could not be separated from overall marital quality and emotional intimacy. Sexual satisfaction dramatically reduced the likelihood of divorce among husbands.
  • Agreement — Agreement between spouses about their sex life seemed no more influential than agreement about other matters.

Some would argue that a longer study is necessary, since Ms. Dzara’s time line didn’t even extend to the “seven-year itch,” the legendary point at which happiness in a marriage seems to decline.

Whether a spouse has had an affair is often seen as a gauge of sexual satisfaction. But there are problems with using adultery as a predictor of divorce. First, there’s the chicken-and-egg question: did the marital relationship end because of adultery, or did adultery happen because the relationship was over?

Second, people have affairs for different reasons, and not all adulterous spouses want a divorce. After children come along, husbands often start to view their wives as maternal figures rather than sexual partners. This can cause men to seek sexual satisfaction outside the marriage. However, wives usually seek an emotional connection through an affair, and this can be a surer sign the marital relationship is on the rocks.

The rise of no-fault divorce has also made it difficult to get reliable statistics on the relationship between adultery and divorce. Some estimates set the rate of divorce due to infidelity at around 30 percent, with husbands being unfaithful about 75 percent of the time and wives about 25 percent.

If you are contemplating divorce, learn how Solutions Divorce Mediation, Inc. can work for you. Call us at 1.631.683.8172 or contact our Long Island office online.

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