So many times, I read about the latest research findings in some newspaper or magazine, and say to myself, did we really need to do a study to know that? Any regular person on the street could have told you the answer to that question. On the other hand, when you read about research that confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt what you already know, don’t you feel validated? I know that I do. So here is one of those studies…
A new finding published by The Gerontological Society of America is based on a public opinion poll of older men and women in the United States, both English and Spanish-speaking. From the analysis of 238 married individuals age 65 years or older, the study showed that frequency of sexual activity was a significant predictor of both general and marital happiness. The study controlled for other variables such as age, gender, health status, and the couples’ satisfaction with their financial situation. The data analysis was conducted by Dr. Adrienne Jackson, who is an assistant professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
The study also found that some couples are happy even though they have little to no sex. In this over 65 crowd, there were still 40 percent who reported no sexual activity in the last 12 months but still said they were very happy with life in general. When asked more specifically about how happy they were in their marriage, 80 percent who had sex more than once a month said they were very happy. So this study shows us that keeping the sexual fires alive can bring more marital bliss.
It also shows that an active sex life is not the only thing necessary to keep the home fires burning. As other research has shown, particularly from psychologist John Gottman, as discussed in How’s Your Family Really Doing? and other previous blogs, it is the ratio of positive to negative interactions that accounts for marital satisfaction. Specifically, the ratio of positive to negative interactions needs to be five to one, five positives to every negative. So choose the positives from among a big list: more touch, more sex, more help with housework, more verbal appreciations. Just make sure you add five for every time you criticize, complain or say not tonight, honey.