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Compatibility or Restraint? The Effects of Sexual Timing on Marriage Relationships


Abstract and Figures

Very little is known about the influence of sexual timing on relationship outcomes. Is it better to test sexual compatibility as early as possible or show sexual restraint so that other areas of the relationship can develop? In this study, we explore this question with a sample of 2035 married individuals by examining how soon they became sexually involved as a couple and how this timing is related to their current sexual quality, relationship communication, and relationship satisfaction and perceived stability. Both structural equation and group comparison analyses demonstrated that sexual restraint was associated with better relationship outcomes, even when controlling for education, the number of sexual partners, religiosity, and relationship length.
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Compatibility or Restraint? The Effects of Sexual Timing on
Marriage Relationships
Dean M. Busby, Jason S. Carroll, and Brian J. Willoughby
Brigham Young University
Very little is known about the influence of sexual timing on relationship outcomes. Is it better
to test sexual compatibility as early as possible or show sexual restraint so that other areas of
the relationship can develop? In this study, we explore this question with a sample of 2035
married individuals by examining how soon they became sexually involved as a couple and
how this timing is related to their current sexual quality, relationship communication, and
relationship satisfaction and perceived stability. Both structural equation and group compar-
ison analyses demonstrated that sexual restraint was associated with better relationship
outcomes, even when controlling for education, the number of sexual partners, religiosity,
and relationship length.
Keywords: sexual timing, sexual quality, couple relationships, communication
Premarital sex has become a normative part of couple
formation in the United States and other modern societies
(Laumann, Gagnon, Michaels, & Michaels, 1994). Several
researchers have reported that approximately 85% of Amer-
icans approve of sexual relations prior to marriage and equal
numbers of both men and women report that they have had
premarital sex (Christopher & Sprecher, 2000; Kaestle &
Halpern, 2007). Although sexual relations are a part of the
contemporary dating script for the majority of couples, there
is evidence that couples differ in the pace and timing with
which they initiate sex in their relationships. Analyses using
data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent
Health (Add Health) study show that approximately 50% of
premarital young adult couples become sexually involved
within the first month of dating, while 25% initiate sex one
to three months after beginning to date and a small propor-
tion of couples wait until marriage before initiating sexual
relations (Sassler & Kamp Dush, 2009). Despite evidence
that couples vary in sexual timing trajectories, very little
research has examined how the timing of sexual relations in
a couple’s formation history influences the development of
other aspects of the relationship, as well as couple out-
comes. In particular, little is known about how sexual tim-
ing patterns may influence the relationships of couples who
stay together and eventually transition to marriage. The
purpose of this article is to explore the understudied link
between sexual timing patterns in coupling and later marital
Literature Review
Several family scholars studied the impact of premarital
sexual behavior on later marital outcomes, and found that
premarital sexuality was often a risk factor for later marital
instability (Kahn & London, 1991; Larson & Holman, 1994;
Teachman, 2003). These authors found that, while the very
fact of having sex before marriage was not usually linked to
lower subsequent marital satisfaction, certain characteristics
of premarital sexual activity, such as age at onset of sexual
debut and the number of partners, was negatively related to
the quality of marriage.
Sexuality during young adulthood has been studied more
as an individual status or condition rather than a sequenced
process in relationship development. One exception to this
was an early study published by Peplau, Rubin, and Hill
(1977). These scholars were the first to note that “research
on premarital sex has typically focused on attitudes and
experiences of individuals, rather than on sexual interaction
in couples” (p. 87). Utilizing what they called a “dyadic
approach” to studying premarital sex, these scholars con-
ducted a study with 231 college-aged dating couples to
examine links between the patterning of sexual behavior
and the development of love and commitment in dating
relationships. Peplau and colleagues (1977) used survey and
interview data to identify and compare three couple patterns
of sexual timing and commitment in dating relationships.
They labeled these groups “early sex” couples (couples who
had sexual intercourse within 1 month of their first date);
later sex” couples (couples who had sex 1 month or later in
their dating); and “abstaining” couples (couples who were
abstaining from sexual intercourse until they were married).
These scholars noted that these three groups were consistent
Dean M. Busby, Jason, S. Carroll, and Brian J. Willoughby,
School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.
This research was supported by research grants from the School
of Family Life and the Family Studies Center at Brigham Young
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to
Dean M. Busby, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University,
2086-C, JFSB, Provo, UT 84602. E-mail:
Journal of Family Psychology © 2010 American Psychological Association
2010, Vol. 24, No. 6, 766 –774 0893-3200/10/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0021690
with the three sexual ethics groups presented by Reiss
(1960, 1967).
In later studies, other scholars began to look for ways to
conceptualize the affective and behavioral events, transi-
tions, or “turning points,” that people use as the interpreta-
tive signals of change in the commitment, intensity, defini-
tion, or stage of development in their romantic relationships
(e.g., Baxter & Bullis, 1986; Bullis, Clark, & Sline, 1993;
Huston, Surra, Fitzgerald, & Cate, 1981). Building upon the
early work of Bolton (1961); Baxter and Bullis (1986)
initiated their systemic investigations of relevant “turning
points” in relationship development. According to Baxter
and Bullis (1986), a turning point is “any event or occur-
rence that is associated with change in the relationship” (p.
470). In particular, these scholars identified the “passion
turning point” or markers of initial sexual involvement as
highly salient in dating couples’ relationships.
Utilizing the turning points perspective, Metts (2004)
hypothesized that the relative sequencing of commitment
and sexual involvement was a critical factor in couple
formation. Specifically, Metts noted that while sexual in-
volvement can and does occur with no prior expressions of
commitment, the passion turning point will be qualitatively
different for a couple when sexual involvement follows
after commitment rather than before. In a study of the
“passion turning point” in the dating relationships of 286
college students, Metts (2004) analyzed the relative se-
quencing of expressions of love and commitment and the
timing of “first sex” in relationships. With regard to the
timing of sexual intimacy, Metts found that the length of
time dating prior to first sexual involvement was a negative
predictor of commitment in men, but not in women. How-
ever, Metts found that for both men and women, the explicit
expression of love and commitment prior to sexual involve-
ment in a dating relationship influenced the personal and
relational meaning of the event. Specifically, Metts (2004)
found that when higher levels of commitment were present,
sexual involvement was more likely to be perceived as a
positive turning point in the relationship, increasing under-
standing, commitment, trust, and a sense of security. How-
ever, when emotional expression and commitment did not
precede sexual involvement, the experience was signifi-
cantly more likely to be perceived as a negative turning
point, evoking regret, uncertainty, discomfort, and prompt-
ing apologies. Consequently, we propose that the timing of
sexual involvement will influence both the sexual quality of
the relationship and the development of communication
(understanding) within that relationship.
Focus of the Study
Although there are only a few studies that have empiri-
cally examined sexual timing patterns in couple relation-
ships, these studies, along with several theoretical ideas
presented in other published work, can be used to organize
an empirical and theoretical approach to the topic. Existing
perspectives of sexuality in relationship development offer
two differing paradigms on the impact of sexuality on
relationship formation—a sexual compatibility perspective
and a sexual restraint perspective.
Sexual compatibility vs. sexual restraint. The first theo-
retical perspective of couple sexuality could be referred to
as the sexual compatibility model, which holds that sexual
interaction is essential during the couple formation process
as it allows partners to assess their compatibility with one
another in this important domain of relationship function-
ing. This line of reasoning is predominant in popular think-
ing about romantic relationship formation as the topic of
“sexual chemistry” is frequently emphasized as an impor-
tant relationship characteristic for young people to both test
and seek out in romantic relationships, particularly in a
relationship that may lead to marriage (Cassell, 2008).
Among scholars and clinicians, sexual chemistry has been
defined as a “mysterious, physical, emotional, and sexual
state” that when present in a relationship creates something
“unique and explosive” (Leiblum & Brezsnyak, 2006,
p. 55).
When the concepts of sexual chemistry and compatibility
are applied to premarital relationships, the generally ac-
cepted notion is that sexual involvement fosters emotional
closeness in the early months of dating, as well as providing
opportunities for self-discovery that may lead to greater
feelings of self-worth. From this perspective, individuals
and couples who do not test their sexual chemistry prior to
the commitments of exclusivity and later marriage are seen
as being at risk for entering into a relationship that will not
satisfy them in the future – thus increasing their risk of
marital distress and failure (Cassell, 2008).
Despite the acceptance and practice of testing sexual
compatibility for many people, there are several areas of
theoretical development that suggest that early sexual initi-
ation may be detrimental to couple formation processes and
later marital outcomes. Contrary to perspectives of sexual
compatibility, a sexual restraint model holds that sexual
involvement during couple formation processes, particu-
larly in the early stages, may be detrimental to overall
relationship development. In particular, the relative se-
quencing of sexual behavior, relationship commitment (i.e.,
sex precedes commitment vs. commitment precedes sex),
and attachment has been hypothesized to be a critical factor
in determining how sexual initiation may impact overall
couple development (Metts, 2004). A conceptual model of
sexual restraint suggests that couples who delay or abstain
from sexual intimacy during early couple formation allow
communication and other social processes to become the
foundation of their attraction to each other, a developmental
difference that may become critical as couples move past an
initial period of sexual attraction and excitement into a
relationship more characterized by companionship and part-
nership. Early sex may increase the risk for asymmetrical
commitment levels, less developed communication patterns,
more constraint to leaving the relationship, less sexual sat-
isfaction later in the relationship, and less ability to manage
adversity and conflict (Stanley, Rhodes, & Markman, 2006).
Although there is theoretical literature on both perspec-
tives, there is little empirical examination of either. The
focus of the current study was to examine whether data
evaluating the timing and influence of sexuality supports
one or the other perspective.
Research Questions
How is sexual timing related to couple processes and
outcomes? Based on the literature and theory previously
reviewed, we developed a structural model illustrated in
Figure 1 that describes how sexual timing might influence
relationship outcomes. As seen in the model, we propose
that sexual timing will influence both the sexual quality of
a relationship and the communication expressed in the re-
lationship and that all of these variables will influence
relationship satisfaction and perceived stability. Both sexual
quality and communication have been linked together and to
relationship satisfaction in previous research (Christopher &
Sprecher, 2001) and the link between sexual timing and
different levels of sexual quality and communication has
been suggested by Metts (2004). We include relationship
length, religiosity, the number of sexual partners, race,
education, income, and parents’ divorce as control variables
in this study. Existing research demonstrates that satisfac-
tion changes over time in relationships, religiosity has been
linked to decisions of when to express sexuality in relation-
ships, while race, education, and income have been linked to
different sexual attitudes and behaviors (Bradbury & Kar-
ney, 2004; Christopher & Sprecher, 2001; Sprecher &
McKinney, 1991). By using these variables as controls, we
will be able to discuss the influence of sexual timing over
and above the influence of the control variables. Finally,
gender is likely to influence many of the variables in the
model so we evaluated whether the path coefficients were
significantly different for males and females (Kaestle &
Halpern, 2007).
If the sexual compatibility idea is valid we would expect
that delayed sexual timing would be negatively related to
sexual quality and communication as well as relationship
satisfaction and perceived stability. This means that the
longer a person waited to be sexual in the relationship the
worse would be their sexual quality, communication, satis-
faction, and perceived stability in marriage. At the least, we
would expect the relationship between sexual timing and the
other variables to be insignificant. On the other hand, if the
sexual restraint idea is valid we would expect that the longer
a person waited to become sexual in their relationship, the
better the outcomes.
Sample and Procedures
The sample from this study was drawn from the entire
population of participants who completed the Relationship
Evaluation Questionnaire (RELATE: Busby, Holman, &
Taniguchi, 2001) between 2006 and 2009. All participants
completed an appropriate consent form prior to the comple-
tion of the RELATE instrument and all data collection
procedures were approved by the institutional review board
at the authors’ university. Individuals completed RELATE
online after being exposed to the instrument through a
variety of sources. Twenty-nine percent of the sample were
referred to the online site by their instructor in a class, 25%
were directed to the site by a relationship educator or
therapist, 8% were sent to the site by clergy, 18% were
referred to the site by a friend or family member, 7% were
referred by an ad the saw online or in a print, and the
remaining 13% of the participants found the instrument by
searching for it on the web.
The RELATE sample included many individuals in a
variety of relationship types from early acquaintances who
were just starting to date to seasoned marriages. Because of
the sexual timing and other relationship variables that were
analyzed in this study, the only individuals retained in the
sample were participants in a heterosexual relationship that
was their first marriage. This resulted in a sample of 2,035
Seventy-seven percent of the sample was Caucasian, 7%
African American, 6% Latino, 6% Asian, and 4% listed
“Other.” In terms of education, 8% completed a high school
Control Variables:
Rel. Length
# Sexual Partners
Parents’ Divorce
Sexual Timing
Sexual Quality
Figure 1. Initial model of the hypothesized association of sexual timing on relationship outcomes.
diploma or less as their highest degree of education, 32%
completed some college, 24% completed a bachelor’s de-
gree, 10% completed some graduate schooling, and 26%
completed a graduate degree. The mean age of the respon-
dents was 36.1 with a standard deviation of 10.2 and a range
from 19 to 71. The measure of relationship length indicated
that 9% of the couples had been married for six months or
less, 11% between 6 and 12 months, 21% for 1–2 years,
19% for 3–5 years, 15% for 6 –10 years, 14% for 11-20
years, and 11% for more than 20 years.
In terms of religious affiliation, 21% of the respondents
were Catholic, 39% were Protestant, 6% were Latter-Day
Saints (Mormon), 17% were members of “another religion,”
and 17% were not affiliated with any religion. These reli-
gious affiliations indicated that there were differences be-
tween the sample in this study and national norms (U.S.
Religious Landscape Survey, 2007). There were fewer Prot-
estants and Catholics (11% fewer Protestants, 3% fewer
Catholics), and more people in the Mormon (4% more),
another religion (12% more, largely because we had fewer
available categories to choose from), and unaffiliated
groups (1% more).
The RELATE is an approximately 300-item online ques-
tionnaire designed to evaluate the relationship of individuals
in a dating, engaged, or married relationship. The questions
examine several different contexts—individual, cultural,
family (of origin), and couple—in order to provide a com-
prehensive evaluation of challenges and strengths in their
Previous research has documented RELATE’s reliability
and validity, including test-retest and internal consistency
reliability; and content, construct, and concurrent validity
(Busby et al., 2001). We refer the reader specifically to
Busby et al.’s (2001) discussion of the RELATE for detailed
information regarding the theory underlying the instrument
and its psychometric properties. The scores for participants
on all the scales in this study were mean scores when more
than one question was combined. Except for the questions
on the frequency of sexual behavior, and the control vari-
ables, questions were answered using 5-point Likert re-
sponse choices.
Sexual timing variable. This variable was one item that
asked individuals how soon they had sexual relations with
their current partner. Although the term “sexual relations” is
more general and less precise than sexual intercourse, this
term was selected because couples are known to engage in
a variety of sexually intimate behaviors other than sexual
intercourse, such as oral sex, and the research to date does
not indicate one type of sexual behavior has a different
influence on relationships than other types (Christopher &
Sprecher, 2001; Regnerus, 2007). Also the existing research
indicates that most individuals consider all of these types of
behaviors as “sex” (Regnerus, 2007). The frequencies on
this variable are presented in Table 1.
Sexual quality variable. The Sexual Quality scale con-
sisted of three questions about the sexual relationship; how
satisfied participants were with their sexual intimacy, how
often sex was a problem in their relationship and how
frequently they had sex with their partners. All variables
were coded in such a way that higher values were equivalent
to higher sexual quality. The internal consistency reliability
coefficient for the Sexual Quality scale was .79.
Communication variable. The Communication scale
consisted of 14 items evaluating how well participants were
able to express empathy and understanding to their partners,
how well they were able to send clear messages to their
partner, how often they were prone to be critical, and how
often they were prone to defensive communication. All
items were coded so that a higher value was equivalent to
better communication. The internal consistency reliability
coefficient for the Communication scale was .86. In terms of
test-retest and validity information on this scale, the com-
munication items have been shown to have test-retest values
between .70 and .83 and were appropriately correlated with
a version of a commonly used Relationship Quality measure
as predicted (Busby et al., 2001). Also these scales have
been shown in longitudinal research to be predictive of
couple outcomes and are amenable to change in couple
intervention studies that focus on communication (Busby,
Ivey, Harris, & Ates, 2007).
Relationship satisfaction variable. This scale consisted of
questions about how satisfied participants were with five
different areas including the time they spent together, the
love they experienced, the way conflict was resolved, the
amount of relationship equality they experienced, and sat-
isfaction with their overall relationship. The internal con-
sistency reliability coefficient for the Relationship Satisfac-
tion scale was .89. Additional test-retest reliability estimates
in past research were between .76 and .78 (Busby et al.
2001). Validity data have also shown the strength of this
scale indicating that it is highly correlated with the existing
relationship quality and satisfaction measures both in cross-
sectional and longitudinal research (Busby et al., 2001,
Table 1
Number of Participants (N 2097) Who Initiated Sexual
Timing at Specific Times in Their Relationship
Timing of sexual involvement with current partner
Number of
1. We had sexual relations before we started dating 126
2. We had sexual relations on our first date 172
3. We had sexual relations a few weeks after we
started dating 478
4. We had sexual relations from 1 to 2 months
after we started dating 389
5. We had sexual relations from 3 to 5 months
after we started dating 248
6. We had sexual relations from 6 to 12 months
after we started dating 170
7. We had sexual relations from 1 to 2 years after
we started dating 71
8. We had sexual relations more than 2 years after
we started dating 45
9. We had sexual relations only after we married 336
Perceived relationship stability variable. This scale con-
sisted of three questions that asked respondents how often
they thought their relationship was in trouble, how often
they thought of ending the relationship, and how often they
had broken up and gotten back together, with higher scores
indicating greater relationship stability. These items were
adapted from earlier work by Booth, Johnson, & Edwards
(1983). The internal consistency reliability coefficient with
this sample for the Perceived Stability scale was .77. Pre-
vious studies have shown this scale to have test-retest reli-
ability values between .78 and .86, to be appropriately
correlated with other relationship quality measures, and to
be valid for use in cross-sectional and longitudinal research
(Busby et al., 2001, 2007; Busby, Holman, & Neihuis,
Control variables. Since we knew from the demographic
variable frequencies that all but seventeen percent of the
sample was affiliated with a religious organization, and we
suspected that religiosity was substantially related to
whether respondents delayed their sexual involvement in
their relationship, we controlled for religiosity in our anal-
yses. The Religiosity scale consisted of three questions that
evaluated how often respondents attended church, how of-
ten they prayed, and how often spirituality was an important
part of their life. The internal consistency reliability coef-
ficient for the Religiosity scale was .89. Additional research
has shown this scale to have test-retest reliability scores of
.86 to .88 (Busby et al, 2001).
Relationship Length was also used as a continuous con-
trol variable in this study. Individuals were asked to indicate
how long they had been in a relationship with their partners.
Responses ranged from 6 months or less to more than 30
years. However, it may be that there are certain cohort and
survival effects in the sample such that those who were
married for longer periods of time were those more likely to
have had sex later in their relationship and to stay together.
To explore this possibility we divided the sample into two
groups comparing those in shorter term marriages (less than
10 years) to those in longer-term marriages. When we split
the sample in this way and reran our analyses we did not
find these two groups to be significantly different on the
sexual timing variable. We also did not find the multivariate
analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) and the structural
equation model (SEM) results to be substantial different for
those we report in the forthcoming results section, conse-
quently we used Relationship Length as a continuous vari-
able in our analyses.
Income, education, and race were also used as control
variables and were single item demographic variables. Race
was dummy-coded with Caucasian’s as the reference group.
We also used a dichotomous yes/no variable of parents’
divorce, and the number of sexual partners reported by the
participants as control variables.
We suspected that many of the control variables were not
significantly related to the relationship outcomes (sexual
quality, communication, relationship satisfaction, or per-
ceived relationship stability) in this study so we conducted
preliminary multiple regression analyses to explore which
control variables should be retained in the analysis of the
model in Figure 1. The only control variables that had a
significant influence on at least one of these couple out-
comes were religiosity, relationship length, the number of
sexual partners, and education. These variables were re-
tained and included in the SEM analysis and the group
comparisons reported in the results section.
The evaluation of the model in Figure 1 was conducted
with AMOS version 7.0 (Arbuckle, 2006). Although error
terms were included for each of the endogenous variables
listed in the Figure, they were not drawn into the SEM
models to simplify the figures.
We report several fit measures to assist in the evaluation
of how well our hypothesized model replicates the sample
data. We follow the recommendations of McDonald and Ho
(2002) and Kline (2005) to report both absolute fit indexes
and incremental fit indexes.
The analysis of the model presented in Figure 1 for the
whole sample indicated that the model was an excellent fit
to the data. The sample size for the SEM analysis was 2035.
The chi-square with 9 degrees of freedom was 15.68 and
was not significant (p.074), the Tucker Lewis Index
(TLI) was .99, the Comparative Fit Index (CFI) was, .99,
while the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation
(RMSEA) was .02.
Comparing Males and Females
The chi-square difference value for the constrained and
unconstrained models comparing female and male partici-
pants with 14 degrees of freedom was 102.96 and was
significant (p.001), indicating that the structural model
was not equivalent for the two groups. However upon
exploring the specific coefficients that were significantly
different for males and females the only ones were the
control variables of the number of sexual partners, educa-
tion, and religion on sexual timing and sexual quality. In
each instance the coefficients were larger for males than
they were for females. Even these differences were small to
moderate in the range of .07 to .15 larger for males than for
females. None of the coefficients listed in Figure 2 were
significantly different for males and females.
Figure 2 shows the standardized path coefficients for the
variables in the model for females and males excluding the
specific coefficients for the control variables. The influence
of the control variables on the major couple outcomes was
weak with none of the control variables having a direct
influence on relationship satisfaction and only education
and the number of sexual partners having an effect of .05
and .07 on perceived relationship stability. Religiosity and
relationship length had a significant effect on sexual quality
of .05 and .17 respectively. Education, religiosity, and
relationship length had an effect of .10, .10, and .08 on
communication. The strongest effects of the control vari-
ables were on sexual timing with religiosity having an effect
of .33 and the number of sexual partners having an effect of
The squared multiple correlations for the endogenous
variables in the model demonstrated that the variables ex-
plained large percentages of variance for Sexual Timing,
Perceived Stability, and Satisfaction.
The total effects of each variable in the model on Rela-
tionship Satisfaction and Perceived Stability are presented
in Table 2. These effects showed that the variables with the
strongest association with Satisfaction were Communica-
tion and Sexual Quality for both females and males. The
variables with the strongest total effects on Perceived Sta-
bility were Communication and Sexual Timing.
Group Comparisons
The significant paths in the model lead us to conduct
group comparisons to explore how people who displayed
varied periods of sexual timing in their relationship might
have unique patterns of Communication, Sexual Quality,
Satisfaction, and Perceived Stability. Based on the theory
we presented in the introductory section and building on the
work of Peplau and colleagues (1977) we divided the sam-
ple into three groups, those who were sexual with their
married partner from before they started dating to less than
one month after they started dating (labeled as “Early Sex”
by Peplau et al., 1977), those who were sexual with their
partners between 1 month and 2 years after they started
dating (labeled as “Later Sex” by Peplau et al., 1977), and
those who were only sexual with their partners after mar-
riage (labeled as “Abstaining” by Peplau et al, 1977).
To compare these three groups we conducted a Multivar-
iate Analysis of Covariance; an analysis particularly appro-
priate for comparing groups of participants on correlated
dependent variables with several control variables. The in-
dependent variables were the Sexual Timing Group and
Gender, with the dependent variables being Communica-
tion, Sexual Quality, Satisfaction, and Perceived Stability.
The control variables were Religiosity, Relationship
Length, Education, and the Number of Sexual Partners.
The results from the MANCOVA indicated that Sexual
Timing Group and Gender had a significant effect on the
dependent variables while holding the control variables
constant. The multivariate F-test for Sexual Timing Group
was significant, Wilks’s ⌳⫽.96, F(8, 3812) 11.01, p
.001. The multivariate F-test for Gender was significant,
Wilks’s ⌳⫽.99, F(4, 1906) 5.17, p.001. The
covariates were significantly related to the outcome mea-
sures at p.001. The multivariate F-test for the interaction
between Sexual Timing Group and Gender was not signif-
icant, Wilks’s ⌳⫽.99, F(8, 3812) 0.72, p.676.
Since the multivariate tests were significant for the two
independent variables, it was appropriate to consider the
univariate results. To evaluate the effect sizes of the inde-
pendent variables on the dependent variables the partial eta
squared statistic (
) was used. The univariate F-test asso-
ciated with Sexual Timing Group was significant for the
dependent variable Communication, F(2, 1919) 21.80,
p.001, partial
.02; for the dependent variable
Sexual Quality F(2, 1919) 12.10, p.001, partial
.01; for the dependent variable Relationship Satisfaction
F(2, 1919) 20.94, p.001, partial
.02; and for the
Sexual Timing
Sexual Quality
.14* (.14)*
.15* (.20)*
.24* (.21)*
.52* (.49)*
.08* (.13)*
.39* (.42)*
.02 (.05)*
.46* (.47)*
.44* (.40)*
R2=.43 (.43)
R2=.63 (.61)
R2=.07 (.07)
R2=.06 (.07)
R2=.29 (.28)
Control Variables:
Rel. Length
# Sexual Partners
Figure 2. The final model showing the influence of sexual timing on relationship outcomes for
females and males (in parenthesis).
Table 2
Standardized Total Effects of the Variables in the Model
on Perceived Relationship Stability and Relationship
Satisfaction for Females and Males
Females Males Females Males
Religiosity .16 .16 .16 .18
Relationship length .11 .09 .11 .04
Education .02 .02 .05 .04
Number of sexual partners .05 .04 .12 .12
Sexual timing .15 .21 .22 .28
Communication .52 .49 .47 .48
Sexual quality .40 .38 .23 .16
dependent variable Perceived Relationship Stability F(2,
1919) 40.05, p.001, partial
The univariate F-test associated with Gender was signif-
icant for the dependent variable Communication, F(1,
1919) 5.03, p.05, partial
.003; for the dependent
variable Relationship Satisfaction F(1, 1919) 9.33, p
.01, partial
.005; and for the dependent variable
Perceived Relationship Stability F(1, 1919) 12.32, p
.001, partial
.006. The univariate F-test associated
with Gender was not significant for the dependent variable
Sexual Quality F(1, 1919) .03, p.877, partial
With significant multivariate and univariate F-tests the
next step was to explore the specific differences between
each sexual timing group on the dependent variables
through step-down F-Tests, using the Bonferroni method to
control for multiple comparisons. The means and standard
deviations for the three sexual timing groups and gender on
the four dependent variables are presented in Table 3. The
means in Table 3 demonstrate that the Sexual Timing Group
that participants belonged to had the strongest association
with Perceived Relationship Stability and Satisfaction as all
three groups were significantly different from each other. In
other words, the longer participants waited to be sexual, the
more stable and satisfying their relationships were once they
were married. Gender had a relatively small influence on the
dependent variables. For the other dependent variables, the
participants who waited to be sexual until after marriage had
significantly higher levels of communication and sexual
quality compared to the other two sexual timing groups.
For many individuals, sexual involvement in the early
stages of dating is seen as an important part of testing
relationship compatibility and determining if the relation-
ship should proceed toward deeper levels of commitment.
The conventional wisdom in the current dating culture is
that couples should test their “sexual chemistry” before
moving to deeper stages of commitment. The prevailing
perspective is that romantic involvement during emerging
adulthood provides an opportunity for individuals to explore
their sexuality in the context of their feelings of love for and
perceptions of being loved by their partner. If this theory is
correct, sexual restraint during couple formation should be
negatively correlated with later relationship outcomes for
couples who decide to marry. The results of this study do
not support this theory. With the sample in this study it is
clear that the longer a couple waited to become sexually
involved the better their sexual quality, relationship com-
munication, relationship satisfaction, and perceived rela-
tionship stability was in marriage, even when controlling for
a variety of other variables such as the number of sexual
partners, education, religiosity, and relationship length.
One explanation for these results is the sexual restraint
theory presented in the introduction section. It is likely that
two mechanisms are at work, underdeveloped relationships
and inertia. In regard to underdeveloped relationships, it is
possible that early sexual involvement focuses the relation-
ship more on physical and sexual aspects of both the partner
and the relationship and less on issues of communication
and commitment. The results that show that delayed sexual
timing is associated with increased quality of the commu-
nication and the sexual areas of the relationship, as well as
perceived relationship stability are consistent with this the-
ory. It is interesting that sexual timing is more strongly
related to communication than it is to sexual quality and
more strongly related to perceived relationship stability than
it is to relationship satisfaction. It may be that relationships
that are founded more on sexual rewards and pleasures early
on end up resulting in more fragile relationships in the
long-term. These findings are consistent with the research
and theory presented by Stanley and associates (Stanley &
Markman, 1992; Stanley et al., 2006) on their commitment
model of couple relationships. In general, commitment the-
ory makes a distinction between forces that motivate con-
nection, called dedication, versus forces that increase the
costs of leaving, called constraint.
Using these constructs, Stanley and Markman (1992)
propose a concept of couple formation that they call “rela-
tionship inertia.” The central idea of inertia is that some
couples who otherwise would not have married end up
married partly because they become “prematurely entan-
gled” (Glenn, 2002) in a relationship prior to making the
decision to be committed to one another. Inertia suggests
that it becomes harder for some couples to veer from the
path they are on, even when doing so would be wise (see
Stanley et al., 2006 for a full discussion of this theory and
related issues). Although research on cohabitation led to
Table 3
Means (Standard Deviations) for Females and Males in the Three Sexual Timing Groups on Communication, Sexual
Quality, Relationship Satisfaction, and Perceived Relationship Stability
1. Early sex 2. Later sex 3. Married sex
Communication 3.3 (.57) 3.4 (.54) 3.5
(.58) 3.5 (.54) 3.7
(.63) 3.8
Sexual quality 3.5 (1.1) 3.4 (1.1) 3.5 (1.0) 3.5 (1.1) 4.0
(.98) 3.9
Satisfaction 3.0
(1.1) 3.2 (.95) 3.2
(1.0) 3.3
(.94) 3.7
(1.1) 3.8
Perceived stability 3.6 (.97) 3.7 (.90) 3.8
(.91) 3.9
(.84) 4.3
(.79) 4.4
Significantly different than all other sexual timing groups of the same gender.
Significantly different than the males in the same group.
Stanley and Markman’s (1992) development of the concept
of relationship inertia, they proposed that similar conse-
quences are possible when couples “slide” into couple tran-
sitions, such as sexual involvement, without deliberate
choice and commitment.
The primary focus here is that when people slide through
major relationship transitions the decreased level of delib-
eration may lower the odds of pro-relational behaviors.
Furthermore, sexual involvement without clear commitment
can represent an ambiguous state of commitment for many
partners. The ambiguity of early sexual initiation may un-
dermine the ability of some couples to develop a clear and
mutual understanding about the nature of their relationships.
In contrast, commitment-based sexuality is more likely to
create a sense of security and clarity between partners and
within their social networks about exclusivity and a future.
The results from this study support these propositions.
Nevertheless, it is important to consider the limitations of
this study and the moderate effects in the model before
concluding that sexual compatibility is not supported. The
sample in this study is clearly not representative and con-
sists of a more educated, white population than a random
sample would have produced. Also the distribution of par-
ticipants into different religious denominations is not rep-
resentative of national norms. It is possible that the associ-
ations between sexual timing and relationship outcomes are
different with segments of the population that were under-
represented in this study. A longitudinal sample where
couples were asked about the meaning of their first sexual
involvement, regardless of the timing, would have resulted
in a clearer test of these theories than the sample we eval-
uated. It may be that some couples were not sliding into
sexual involvement, no matter how early or late it occurred
in their relationship. Longitudinal analyses would also pro-
vide a clearer test of the association between sexual timing
with actual relationship stability instead of the perceived
stability that we measured.
The strength of the associations of sexual timing with the
other variables in this study are moderate, and in the group
analysis are often small. Consequently to state that the
results indicate that people who engage in early sexual
relations are at great risk for relationship problems would be
an error. Clearly there are many other aspects of relationship
functioning that are not measured in our study. It may be
that other variables such as attachment and personality are
better explanations for the patterns in this study that should
be included in the future studies. However, the findings of
this study also suggest that to state that couples who delay
or abstain from sexual involvement prior to marriage are
disadvantaged or at greater risk for sexual and relationship
problems is also an error.
Nevertheless, authors studying sexuality have often at-
tributed the different patterns of sexual timing in relation-
ships to be primarily about religious values and culture
(Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, & Michaels, 1994; Regnerus
2007). Because we have controlled for religiosity, we have
been able to demonstrate that sexual timing has a unique
effect beyond religious involvement. If the effect of sexual
timing is not just about religiosity, it may be more related to
concepts of poor mate selection, lower levels of commit-
ment to marriage, comparing partners with alternatives, and
normalizing breakups as discussed by several authors
(Kaestle & Halpern, 2007; Stanley et al, 2006; Teachman,
2003). Since in our study sexual timing had its strongest
relationship to communication, we speculate that the re-
wards of sexual involvement early on may undermine other
aspects of relationship development and evaluation such
that individuals may not put as much energy into crucial
couple processes such as communication and may stay with
partners who are not as skilled in these processes, thereby
resulting in a marriage that is more brittle. The significant
relationship between sexual timing and perceived relation-
ship stability in our results further supports these specula-
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Received March 15, 2010
Revision received August 24, 2010
Accepted August 26, 2010
... W dzisiejszej rzeczywistości, w której przyzwolenie na przedślubną seksualność jest zjawiskiem powszechnym, już samo sformułowanie "przedmałżeńska wstrzemięźliwość seksualna" może wydawać się anachronizmem. Niemniej jednak rezultaty badań wskazują na jej duże znaczenie dla trwałości i stabilności małżeństwa (Busby, Carroll, Willoughby, 2011;Willoughby, Carroll, Busby, 2014). Seksualność podejmowana przed ślubem nierzadko zniechęca do jego zawarcia ...
... Dane zawarte w Roczniku Demograficznym pokazują, że w 1990 roku w Polsce wskaźnik urodzeń pozamałżeńskich wynosił 6,2%, z kolei w roku 2011 wyniósł 21,2% (za: Janicka, 2014, s. 287-288). Warto też podkreślić, że zgodnie z rezultatami wielu badań rozpoczynanie współżycia seksualnego dopiero po ślubie sprzyja trwałości małżeństwa (Busby, Carroll, Willoughby, 2011;Willoughby, Carroll, Busby, 2014 Ogółem 333 100 ...
... Prawdopodobnie podlegają złudzeniu, że nowy związek będzie inny niż poprzednie. Tymczasem wejście na ścieżkę poszukiwania doznań zmysłowych zmniejsza szanse nawiązania trwałej relacji (Busby, Carroll, Willoughby, 2011;Willoughby, Carroll, Busby, 2014). Warto przypomnieć, że starsze pokolenie, częściej niż młodsze, potrafiło dochować wierności jednej osobie na całe życie. ...
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The issues of the research carried out fall within the scope of the determinants of divorce conflict and coping with it. The subject of the research are factors that condition the postponing of divorce decision (manifesting itself in the form of the suspension of divorce proceedings). It has been assumed that the durability of marriage is a value which needs to be protected, hence the importance of such actions of the spouses which aim at reconstructing the bonds of marriage. These actions include the suspension of divorce proceedings. The factors that determine the decision concerning the suspension have been analysed. In order to do so, the spouses who decide on the suspension of divorce proceedings and those who take the final decision to get divorced have been compared. In the research carried out, it has been assumed that there are specific conditions for the suspension of divorce proceedings. They are as follows: maturity for marriage, conjugal family of origin, marriage duration, income, duration of mediation sessions, engagement of an attorney in the proceedings, participation in a therapy. In view of the above, the following hypotheses have been drawn: spouses who suspend divorce proceedings, compared to those getting divorced, are characterized by greater maturity (manifested by empathy, caring for the well-being of the children, caring for financial security of the family, fidelity, the will to forgive, help in difficult situations and responsibility), more frequently come from conjugal families, more seldom declare premarital pregnancy, are characterized by a longer duration of marriage, have higher incomes, spend less time at mediation sessions, more often decide to participate in a therapy. A research question regarding the reasons for the deterioration of marital relations has also been posed. The aforementioned hypotheses have made it possible to determine research variables – dependent and independent. The dependent variable is the type of a settlement reached, i.e. a written contract between the disputing parties, the aim of which is to reach an agreement. The settlement takes one of the two forms: a suspension of divorce proceedings (spouses decide to postpone the divorce decision) or a divorce (spouses sign a divorce agreement, in which they state that economic, physical, psychical and spiritual bonds between them have extinguished). Independent variables, in turn, refer to other conditions for postponing the divorce decision, which have been listed earlier. The data for the research have been gathered from interviews. Two interviews have been made with spouses who have filled divorce petitions and agreed to be interviewed and for the data obtained from these interviews to be used anonymously. The data gathered from interview 1 contained the following information regarding the characteristics of the group studied: the age of the spouse, the age of entering into marriage, the level of education, living together or apart, the plaintiff ’s sex, the number of children, the number of siblings, the type of marriage entered into, the marital status at the moment of entering into marriage. The interviews have also made it possible to gather data concerning the family of origin (conjugal/broken), premarital pregnancy, the duration of marriage, spouses’ income, the duration of mediation sessions, hiring an attorney, the declaration to take part in a therapy. During interview no. 1 the researcher also posed a question regarding the reasons for the deterioration of marital relations: ‘What caused the deterioration of marital relations?’ The researcher noted down literal responses of the persons being questioned. Interview 2 was constructed on the basis of pilot studies and subject literature. It concerned spouse perception of their maturity for marriage (app. 2). The interview was of a structured character. It consisted of 10 closed questions to which the persons responded ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The questions concerned the following aspects of maturity: caring for children’s well-being, caring for financial security of the family, help in difficult situations, the willingness to forgive, empathy, fidelity and responsibility (accepting the consequences of one’s own actions, keeping commitments, the feeling of guilt in the case of hurting family members, striving toward redressing the wrong). It must be emphasised that (app. 1) all married couples (i.e. 333), including 46 couples suspending divorce proceedings and 287 couples getting divorced participated in the first interview (nevertheless, full data were not gathered from all spouses, hence different number of persons questioned are presented in particular tables). In the second interview concerning maturity (app. 2), 82 married couples participated, including 46 couples getting divorced, selected in such a way that both groups (spouses getting divorced and those suspending the divorce proceedings) were as similar to each other as possible in terms of age, duration of marriage, the number of children, the level of education, age when entering into marriage, marital status at the moment of entering into marriage. Quantity strategy has been used in the research paper. Regularities achieved by means of the statistic analysis method have provided a general picture of the situation of spouses getting divorced and facilitated a confrontation of the results with statistic model assumptions. These regularities have been completed with spouses’ statements, which have given a new significance to the results obtained within the statistic analysis and have provided interesting possibilities to interpret them. Additionally, the aforementioned statements have enriched the contents of this thesis, as individual’s opinions often appeal more to the reader than „dry” statistical data. The thesis consists of three parts: theoretical, methodological and empirical. In the theoretical part (consisting of three chapters) the following issues have been analysed: spouses’ psychological maturity, values and their significance in spouses’ lives (with specific consideration given to the values of education), divorce as a social problem (statistical data illustrating the situation of divorces in Poland), the reasons for a divorce conflict, the state of research regarding psychosocial consequences of divorce for parents and children. Taking into consideration the fact that the research describes married couples participating in mediation, the theoretical part includes basic information about it and the procedure of suspending divorce proceedings. The methodological part includes research questions and hypotheses, the method of gathering data, variables and research procedure. The research group has been described, taking into account its characteristic features, such as the age of spouses, the age at the moment of getting married, level of education, type of living (together/apart), the number of children, the number of siblings, the marital status of the spouses at the moment of getting married. The next five chapters – empirical – refer directly to the hypotheses tested and to the responses to research questions concerning the causes of the deterioration of marriage relations. It has been assumed in this thesis that marriage is a value, hence factors considered to be especially important are those underlying the decision to suspend the divorce proceedings for some time in order to fix the damaged relations. The results of the research carried out have confirmed all the verified hypotheses, so it turned out that both spouses’ maturity (including responsibility), conjugal family of origin, longer duration of marriage, higher income, shorter mediation sessions as well as declaration to participate in a therapy favour the suspension of divorce proceedings. In turn, the decision to get divorced coexists with declaring premarital pregnancy and hiring an attorney in mediation. In response to the research questions posed, such causes have also been named which in the opinion of the spouses researched have had a decisive influence on the deterioration of marital relations, and as such favoured divorce and not the suspension of divorce proceedings. They are as follows (listed from the most frequently to the most infrequently declared): adultery, mother- -in-law’s interference, addiction, problems with work, child’s birth, a child from previous relationship, illness and disability in the family, father-in-law’s interference, miscarriage, departure abroad, others. The results of statistical analysis have shown the following reasons for the deterioration of marital relations, which significantly differentiate the group getting divorced from the one suspending divorce proceedings: adultery, addiction, problems with work, child’s birth. It must be emphasised that while both verifying the hypotheses tested and discussing the reasons for the deterioration of marital relations, statements regarding maturity with special concern given to the value of responsibility have been searched for in the spouses’ statements. It has been assumed that maturity and pursuing values in life have key significance for postponing the decision about divorce. Numerous detailed issues experienced by spouses in the divorce crisis have been listed in the thesis. Knowing these problems and the attempts to solve them may be used during various meetings and workshops, which aim at shaping correct attitudes towards marriage and family. Using some problem illustrations in writing educational programs for schools, preparing young people for married life is also worth considering.
... Some studies on relationship formation have examined the role of sex in the development of relationships. For example, Busby et al. (2010) tested the role of sexual compatibility and sexual restraint approaches to relationships and how these influenced later relationship outcomes. They found that those who delayed sexual involvement (as opposed to testing sexual compatibility early) reported better relationship outcomes. ...
... We therefore are unable to make claims about saturation (LaRossa, 2005). Previous research indicates that individuals do take this approach to sex and relationships (Busby et al., 2010), but more research is needed on this group and how they may differ in meaningful ways from other meanings ascribe to sex and commitment. Thus, this group can be considered as an initial indication of the role of sex in relationship decisions among emerging adults, but should not be considered robust. ...
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The purpose of this study was to examine how meanings ascribed to sex and commitment vary based on educational background, gender, and other correlates using a large sample of college-attending and non-college emerging adults (ages 18–25; N = 669). Findings from our content analysis replicated previous research by identifying meanings focused on commitment (47.8%), flexibility (22.7%), and recreation (17.8%). We also found two additional meanings focused on finding a sexual connection (termed Connectors; 9.1%) and using sex to test relationship compatibility (termed Testers; 2.5%), which were not found in previous studies on sex and commitment. A greater proportion of women than men were in the Committers group, whereas a greater proportion of men than women were in the Recreationers group. A greater proportion of heterosexual than sexual minority participants were in the Committers group, whereas a greater proportion of sexual minority than heterosexual participants were in the Flexibles and Testers groups. A greater proportion of those in committed relationships than those in casual or no relationships were in the Committers group, whereas a greater proportion of those in casual relationships than those in committed or no relationships were in the Recreationers group. Those in the Recreationers group reported the greatest average number of hookup partners in the last 12 months (compared to all others), and those in the Recreationers and Testers groups reported the greatest average number of lifetime sexual partners (compared to all others). Implications for future research and sexual health education for emerging adults are discussed.
... In 7 out of 13 studies Hurlbert sexual compatibility index was used 10-13, 23-25 and 3 studies were conducted usig researchermade questionnaires or combination of several questionnaires. [26][27][28] Full text of 2 old articles was not accessed. 29, 30 Foster had designed a 101-question questionnaire about sexual compatibility, 29 but it was not used in any of the subsequent studies and the text of the questionnaire was not accessible to any journal. ...
... Consequently, the final questionnaire included 35 items under 4 subscales with a 4 point-Likert scale, in which six items were reversed (Q16, 26,27,28,29,30). The scores range from 35 (the least compatibility) to 140 (the highest compatibility). ...
Background: Sexual compatibility between husband and wife is an effective factor in both sexual and marital satisfaction. However, there is limited valid and reliable questionnaire to measure the degree of sexual compatibility between the couples. Methods: In this exploratory mixed method study, 54 individuals were interviewed in the qualitative phase and 448 persons participated in the quantitative phase. Totally 502 participants (261 woman, 241 men) took part in this study. According to 205 final codes derived from the qualitative phase, 102 initial items were developed, the number of which reached 69 items after deletion and merging performed by the research team. After face validity, content validity and construct validity, 68 items were introduced into the construct validity phase. Results: Following exploratory factor analysis and promax rotation, the items were reduced to 35 in 4 factors: "Requirements of a sexual relationship", "Sexual agreement", "Contextual obstacles" and "Outcomes of sexual compatibility". The questionnaire Cronbach alpha and correlation coefficient of the test-retest method were 0.90 and 0.91, respectively. Conclusion: Final Questionnaire included 35 items in 4 point-Likert scale with total score of between 35-140. This valid and reliable questionnaire is brief, easily interpreted and can measure the main factors affecting sexual compatibility with the spouse in clinics and research fields.
... The placement of sexual satisfaction/dissatisfaction to the left of relationship satisfaction/ dissatisfaction is arguable as the sexual relationship and the overall relationship appear to have a reciprocal relationship in longitudinal research (McNulty et al., 2016). However, we elected to place the sexual relationship before the overall relationship because current research demonstrates that most couples begin their relationship with sexual interactions occurring very early on (Busby, Carroll, & Willoughby, 2010), often before they have formally declared that they are in a relationship (Willoughby, Busby, & Carroll, 2014), and the sexual relationship is generally viewed as a subdimension of the overall relationship rather than the other way around. (Fisher et al., 2015). ...
In this study we explored how the amount of kissing during the most recent sexual experience (specific kissing) and amount of kissing during the last year (global kissing) were both associated with the quality of the sexual relationship and overall relationship satisfaction and dissatisfaction. To understand these associations, we obtained surveys from a national sample of 878 participants who had been in a romantic relationship for at least two years. We evaluated their results through a structural equation model and found that for women the rates of specific kissing were associated with their ability to orgasm, sexual frequency, and indirectly to sexual satisfaction. For both men and women, measures of global kissing were associated with both sexual and relationship satisfaction but more strongly with measures of sexual and relationship dissatisfaction. These findings suggest that measures of kissing could be used as a bellwether of both the quality of the sexual relationship for women and of feelings of dissatisfaction about both the sexual and overall relationship for both sexes.
... For example, studies such as the one by Busby et al. (2010) found in 2.035 couples that the married couples who had sex only until marriage compared to couples who had premarital sex had significant differences in the quality of sex, sexual relationship, communication, and greater relationship satisfaction. Such study is consistent with that mentioned by Wilcox et al. (2011), regarding that getting sexually involved before marriage at any age can cloud the decision when choosing the right person for a lifetime, because on a biochemical level the bond and the high dopamine that sexuality brings with it can be blinding to honestly see defects and lack of compatibility. ...
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Infidelity is a problem that entails psychological and physical consequences in humankind (Buss, 2016; González et al., 2009; Shackelford et al., 2003); thus, indicating the importance of measuring infidelity construct. The objective of the study was to determine the validity and reliability of the Multidimensional Infidelity Inventory (IMIN) for Colombian samples. For this, the instrument was applied to 674 Colombian participants, 224 men (33.28%) and 449 women (66.71%), with ages between 18 and 81 years (M = 25.11; SD = 10.56), carrying out exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory, and internal consistency for each subscale. In general, in the Motives to infidelity scale, three factors were found that explained 66.74% of the total accumulated variance; three factors were found in the Trend to Infidelity scale, explaining 65.02% of the total variance; in the sub-scale of Beliefs to infidelity, five factors were obtained, explaining 58.33% of the accumulated variance; and in the sub-scale of Consequences of infidelity, two clearly constituted factors were found, which explain 57.58% of the accumulated variance. All of them had confirmatory models with adequate levels of goodness of fit, adequate Cronbach alpha indicators, item-item, and item-test correlations, in addition to concordance with the original proposal of the instrument.
... We used a latent variable of relational communication (5 items) to assess overall communication skills. This scale was developed in the relationship evaluation questionnaire (RELATE; Busby et al. 2001) and continues to be used in research (e. g. Busby et al. 2010). Examples of information included in this scale include, "I am able to listen to my partner in an understanding way" and "My partner understands my feelings." ...
Full-text available
This study longitudinally examined the sexual costs of economic distress in newlywed couple relationships. Family stress theory posits an association between economic pressure and family relationships. The ability of financial strain to contaminate non-financial aspects of a marriage is troubling considering that many newlyweds report difficulty with financial adjustments after marriage. Positive communication may be a skill that enables young couples to alleviate economic pressure, and the study evaluated the moderating roles of financial communication, sexual communication, and relational communication. Utilizing an actor-partner interdependence moderation model, hypotheses were tested using dyadic data from 2044 couples from a nationally representative sample of newlywed couples in 2017–2018 in the United States. We found that economic pressure of both partners negatively associated with their own contemporaneous sexual satisfaction, but not their partner’s. In addition, we found weak links over time for wives only. Financial communication attenuated the negative effects when husbands and wives experienced economic pressure. Financial communication by a partner protected against negative sexual consequences for wives when that partner experienced economic pressure. Additionally, strong financial communication by wives protected wives from negative sexual consequences of their husbands’ economic pressure. The findings align with family stress theory; specifically, communication may be a resource that helps couples adapt to negative financial stress.
... However, as shown in this study, at times lower levels of sexual activity are related to values and belief systems that encourage sexual restraint. In such instances, practitioners would want to intervene in ways that are respectful of cultural practices and belief systems as described in a variety of resources (Kelly, 2017), especially since this restraint, if practiced from an intrinsic level of motivation, can result in positive outcomes for future relationships (Busby et al., 2010). Additionally, the unique findings in this study showing a relationship between sexual activity in different relational contexts and later marital status, suggests those working with emerging adults might want to explore how their relationship experiences in the present might influence in positive and negative ways their attitudes and behaviors in future committed relationships. ...
In this study we explored why there are sometimes conflicting findings regarding the influence of past sexual experience on relationships. Consequently, we studied the effects of body-esteem and religiosity on sexual experience in two relational contexts (casual or committed relationships) and how all of these variables were associated with life satisfaction, and the likelihood that a person would be married by their early thirties. With a national sample of 4966 participants, our results indicated that sexual experiences in casual relationships had negative associations with life satisfaction and relationship status, whereas sexual experiences in committed relationships had positive associations.
... In lieu of committed relationships that require time and energy, emerging adults may resort to hookups to free up time to devote to other needs, such as work and school-related pursuits as they move toward coordinating romantic relationships with work, future careers, and education (Shulman & Connolly, 2013). It has been suggested that for contemporary emerging adults, hooking up may be replacing dating (Bogle, 2007), which may allow young adults to test sexual compatibility before forming a long-term committed relationship (Busby, Carroll, & Willoughby, 2010). However, research also indicates that some emerging adults engage in hookup or casual sex experiences as well as serial monogamous relationships (Regnerus & Uecker, 2011). ...
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The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between perceptions of each developmental feature of emerging adulthood and endorsement of each feature of the hookup culture with number of different hookup partners and hookup behaviors. Participants were 1219 college-attending emerging adults (ages 18–29 years) who completed an online survey about emerging adult experiences. After controlling for semester of data collection and known correlates of hooking up (e.g., age, sex, religiosity, and binge drinking experience), none of the developmental features of emerging adulthood were significantly associated with number of different hookup partners in the last 12 months. In addition, only one feature of the hookup culture was associated with number of different hookup partners: Hooking up is fun. In follow-up analyses among those who reported at least one hookup in the last 12 months (n = 807), some of the developmental features of emerging adulthood (e.g., experimentation/possibilities, negativity/instability) and features of the hookup culture (e.g., hooking up is fun, hooking up provides sexual freedom) helped differentiate reported involvement in various types of hookup behaviors. The most prominent and consistent correlate was number of different hookup partners in the last 12 months (increased likelihood of all behaviors, except deep kissing). Recommendations for understanding hooking up as a developmental and/or cultural experience are discussed.
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This article has two main parts. The first section introduces the model of "Marital Paradigms" (Willoughby et al., 2015). In this conceptualization, all the beliefs of a person (woman or man) about marriage and marital life can be categorized in two distinct areas: "Beliefs about Getting Married" and "Beliefs about Being Married". "Beliefs about Getting Married" represent one's beliefs about "marriage" and its importance in life, as well as a general view of how it is done. These beliefs consist of three distinct dimensions: "Marital Timing" (one's view of the ideal and expected timing for marriage, the expected length of love), "Marital Salience" (individual beliefs about the relative importance and global importance of marriage and getting married), "Marital Context" (beliefs and attitudes about the context in which marriage should occur). "Beliefs about Being Married" represent one's beliefs about the nature and methods of managing marital life. These beliefs also have three distinct dimensions: "Marital Processes" (beliefs about how the marriage process should take place, including beliefs about gender roles (Marital Roles), beliefs about attempting to make marital life (Marital Efforts), and other marriage-related processes), "Marital Centrality" (it is based on beliefs about the importance of marital/spouse's role in relation to other roles played by an adult married person), and "Marital Permanence" (beliefs about the commitment to marry and the admissibility of divorce). In the second section, the study of "Marital Paradigms" among Iranian youths (male and female) and gender-related comparisons of six dimensions are discussed. The research sample consisted of 644 students (323 females and 321 males) who entered the study using stratified sampling (stratums: gender, universities, academic grades). To measure Marital Paradigms, "Marital Paradigms Scale" (MPS) (Willoughby and Hall, 2015) was used. The results of the study showed that men and women have different patterns of Marital Paradigms. Meanwhile
Americans remain deeply ambivalent about teenage sexuality. Many presume that such uneasiness is rooted in religion. This book tackles such questions as: how exactly does religion contribute to the formation of teenagers' sexual values and actions? What difference, if any, does religion make in adolescents' sexual attitudes and behaviors? Are abstinence pledges effective? Who expresses regrets about their sexual activity and why? The book combines analyses of three national surveys with stories drawn from interviews with over 250 teenagers across America. It reviews how young people learn, and what they know about sex from their parents, schools, peers, and other sources. It examines what experiences teens profess to have had, and how they make sense of these experiences in light of their own identities as religious, moral, and responsible persons. The author's analysis discovers that religion can and does matter. However, the analysis finds that religious claims are often swamped by other compelling sexual scripts. Particularly interesting is the emergence of what the author calls a "new middle class sexual morality", which has little to do with a desire for virginity but nevertheless shuns intercourse in order to avoid risks associated with pregnancy and STDs. And strikingly, evangelical teens aren't less sexually active than their non-evangelical counterparts, they just tend to feel guiltier about it. In fact, the analysis finds that few religious teens have internalized or are even able to articulate the sexual ethic taught by their denominations. The only-and largely ineffective-sexual message most religious teens are getting is: "don't do it until you're married". Ultimately, the author concludes, religion may influence adolescent sexual behavior, but it rarely motivates sexual decision making.
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The 80 partners from 40 romantic relationships were independently interviewed using the RIT procedure with regard to the turning points of their respective relationships; 26 types of turning points were found, which reduced to 14 supra-types. These supra-types differed in their association with relational commitment, with some events strongly positive, some strongly negative, and others relatively modest in reported change in commitment. About half of the turning points involved explicit metacommunication between the relationship parties, but the likelihood of relationship talk varied by turning point type. About half of the 759 identified turning points were agreed upon by relationship partners, but agreement differed depending on turning point type. Neither partner agreement nor the presence of explicit metacommunication was related to the respondent's current satisfaction with the relationship. However, the proportion of total turning points that were negative correlated negatively with current satisfaction. Two turning point events, Exclusivity and Disengagement, individually differentiated more from less satisfied relationship parties.
The purpose of this research was to understand in greater detail, using 2 samples (Study 1 N = 4,881 heterosexual couples; Study 2 N = 335 heterosexual couples who completed the Relationship Evaluation Questionnaire), how partner or self-enhancement patterns differentially influence relationship outcomes. A multivariate analysis of covariance was conducted comparing 4 outcome measures for different couple types in which individuals rated the partner higher, the same, or lower than they rated themselves on affability. Couples in which both individuals perceived themselves as more affable than the partner experienced poorer results on the relationship outcome measures, whereas couples in which both individuals perceived the partner's personality as more affable than their own experienced more positive relationship outcomes. Additional analyses with structural equation models demonstrated the consistent influence of enhancement measures on relationship outcomes for cross-sectional and longitudinal samples.
This article reviews research on the premarital factors associated with later marital quality and stability in first marriages. Three major categories of factors are described, including background and context, individual traits and behaviors, and couple interactional processes. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal research are summarized. Recommendations for future research and implications for family life education and premarital counseling are described.