By implication, our marriages suffer when we make more comparisons.
What’s missing from these studies is an exploration that considers the effects of a full range of premarital sexual activity on marital happiness using national data.
The median man has had six partners, but only four if he’s a four-year college graduate.
Research dating before marriage
All this research suggests that the effects of one’s premarital sexual biography on marital happiness may not closely follow the findings outlined in my previous post. Stanley found that the study respondents who had sex with other people prior to marriage reported lower-quality unions compared to couples who slept just with each other.
Previous research indeed suggests a complex story between premarital sex partners and marital quality. Multiple sex partners prior to marriage reduced marital quality for women, but not men.
Women who’ve had 11 or more lovers are a bit more likely to report happy marriages at 57 percent.
The second, third, and fourth columns of Table 1 introduce a variety of covariates intended to account for the relationship between sexual history and marital happiness.
Survey respondents who tied the knot as virgins had the lowest divorce rates, but beyond that, the relationship between sexual biography and marital stability was less clear.
Having multiple partners generally doesn’t increase the odds of divorce any more than having just a few does so.
Marital happiness and divorce aren’t always as intertwined as they might seem.
A clarifying example is the family demography of the Great Depression.
Pervasive financial hardship made marriages less happy, yet the divorce rate fell because divorce and single living seemed unaffordable.