Saving sex for marriage? You may be upping your chances for a better relationship.
A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology suggests that there is correlation between couples who first have sex after their vows and the health of their marriage in areas including communication, sexual quality, relationship satisfaction and perceived stability.
Sociologist Dean Busby of Brigham Young University in Utah — a conservative school rooted in the Mormon faith, which shares many of the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality — spearheaded the research.
Analysts have been quick to point out that Busby’s research does not show that waiting to have sex until after matrimony causes marital strength. As The Economist points out, it could be the case that the sort of couples who choose to wait until marriage are more intentional about building relationship skills. Others apply conventional wisdom, arguing that those who wait rely on good communication rather than sexual intimacy to create their bond.
The study examined the relationships of more than 2,000 married people. The length of their marriages spanned from less than six months to more than 20 years. Some were religious, some were not, and Busby’s method attempted to control for “religiosity.”
For Catholics, Busby’s research merely affirms what our faith already teaches: That chastity, which includes sexual abstinence before marriage, is a virtue, and virtue bears fruit. In the case of marriage, the practice of chastity naturally leads to patience, temperance, prudence, honesty and trust.
It’s no secret that today’s culture doesn’t prize chastity like it used to. The Economist asserts that 85 percent of Americans condone premarital sex, not only because absence is hard, but also because some think sex is necessary to know someone well enough to marry him or her.
Correlation or causation? Either way, the study is a reminder that following Catholic teaching pays off, even in the here and now.