What’s a Happy Marriage Recipe? Sex is a main ingredient, according to new research. Researchers found that sexual intercourse results in a “afterglow” lasting 2 days. Therefore, this afterglow could improve long-term satisfaction with the relationship.
In the journal Psychological Science, lead author Andrea Meltzer, of Florida State University, and colleagues recently published their findings.
A number of studies have shown that sex leads to short-term relationships, but the researchers note that most couples do not participate in sexual activity on a regular basis.
Just 21 percent of married men and 24 percent of married women have sex on 4 or more days per week, according to the International Society of Sexual Medicine.
So, what ties do sexual activity partners in between?
Meltzer and colleagues have hypothesized that sex produces an afterglow, or a period of sexual pleasure, that enhances partner bonding in the periods between sexual activity, and that this will boost long-term relationship pleasure.
The researchers tested this theory by analyzing the two-study results, which included 214 newlywed couples in total.
As part of the studies the couples had to complete a 14-day daily diary. Every day spouses were asked to disclose whether they had engaged with their partner in sexual intercourse, and how happy they were with their sex life.
Couples have also been asked on a regular basis to score their relationship satisfaction, marital satisfaction and partner satisfaction.
In addition, each couple’s marital satisfaction was evaluated at the baseline of the analysis, and 4-6 months later at a follow-up assessment.
Stronger sexual afterglow linked to greater marital satisfaction
Couples have reported having sex on an average of 4 days during the 14-day study period.
Not only was sexual activity correlated with sexual pleasure on the same day, but the researchers also found that a single sex act created an afterglow that lasted for 2 days.
After accounting for a variety of potential confounding factors like age, gender, sexual orientation, personality traits, and duration of relationship, this result remained.
The researchers established an overall decrease between the baseline of the analysis and the follow-up evaluation when considering martial satisfaction.
They observed, however, that couples who recorded stronger sexual afterglow were more likely to report higher marital satisfaction 4-6 months later than couples with weaker sexual afterglows.
Meltzer says the results of the study are significant as they confirm earlier studies indicating that sex plays an important part in partner bonding.
“Our research shows that sexual satisfaction remains elevated 48 hours after sex. And people with a stronger sexual afterglow – that is, people who report a higher level of sexual satisfaction 48 hours after sex – report higher levels of relationship satisfaction several months later.”