Science: Abstinence May Make The Heart Grow Fonder


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.



  1. Meesch-691047 July 27, 2012 Reply

    Knew it! Catholicism DOES make rational sense 🙂

  2. Stephanie-609661 February 14, 2011 Reply

    I wear a purity ring. Chastity is just smart!

  3. Dionne-675109 February 8, 2011 Reply

    I love it.

  4. Arnold-327500 February 6, 2011 Reply

    One interesting thing in the cited statistical summary, is the disparity of one tenth point (or double that gap in Relationship Satisfaction) between men and women in all categories with men scoring higher in everything except Communication both Early On, and After Marriage. This points to a gender inequality between the sexes regardless of chastity. I am curious to see the actual study results, and especially the survey questions posed to rate each of the four categories. None of your hyperlinks point to the study although the WebMD link contains more information. Nor do you properly cite it. Perhaps you would be kind enough to post a direct link, for those of us who don’t have access to academic periodical indices and proprietary databases on-line?

  5. Albert-99270 February 6, 2011 Reply

    I agree with the article. I also believe that abstinence forms respect for one another as well, both emotionally and spiritually as a couple. Also, St Raphael supports sexual abstinence prior to marriage.

    • Deric-711861 April 15, 2011 Reply

      Sadly these days even those who are from ideal catholic families do not believe that abstinence is necessary in forming a solid relationship. I have tried to to true to Jesus teaching on this but it is truly difficult in the world we have now to find a person who has not engaged in some form of sexual activity. It makes me think if I am becoming a fool in this world or is there someone that Jesus has destined for me who is pure and virtuous .

  6. Craig G. February 3, 2011 Reply

    Anytime you follow God’s ways you are WAY better off. That includes the area of sex and sexuality!! It is a no-brainer! You will be happier, holier, and healthier following Him! St. Blaze, pray for us.


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