By Jane Mathews
COUPLES who marry the old-fashioned way – shunning sex until after the wedding – enjoy happier marriages, a study has found.
Researchers say delaying the joy of the wedding night not only results in better relationships but also improves sex itself.
They asked 2,035 married couples how soon they first had sex after they first met.
Those who waited until the honeymoon were 22 per cent more likely to say their relationship was stable, and 20 per cent more likely to say it was satisfying.
They also rated the quality of their sex lives 15 per cent above those who had sex before marriage, and were 12 per cent more likely to say they communicated well with their partner. Those who jumped the gun and had sex before marriage reported around half as much of the benefits, according to the US researchers.
Study leader Professor Dean Busby, of the Brigham Young University in Utah, said: “Most research on the topic is focused on individuals’ experiences of sex and not the timing within a relationship.
“There’s more to a relationship than sex but we did find that those who waited longer were happier with the sexual aspect of their relationship. I think it’s because they’ve learned to talk and have the skills to work with issues that come up.”
He said researchers had also found that couples who were not religious also reported having better relationships if they waited before having sex.
Prof Busby added: “Regardless of how religious a couple are, waiting helps the relationship form better a communication process and this improves long-term stability and relationship satisfaction.” Texas University sociologist Mark Regnerus said the study showed that people should work on building an emotional relationship in the early stages.
He added: “Couples who hit the honeymoon too early – that is, prioritise sex promptly at the outset – often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make them stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy.”