Skip to main content

Waiting to have sex until after marriage can pay off, a new study says.

Getty Images

First comes love, then comes marriage. Where should sex fit in?

Couples who wait until they are married to have sex appear to be much happier than those who race to get it on, according to a new study in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Family Psychology.

The study was based on 2,035 married individuals who participated in an online assessment, which included questions such as, "When did you become sexual in this relationship?"

Story continues below advertisement

A statistical analysis of participants showed that couples who wait until they put a ring on it enjoy significantly more benefits than those who had sex earlier: relationship stability was rated 22 per cent higher; relationship satisfaction was rated 20 per cent higher; sexual quality of the relationship was rated 15 per cent better and communication was rated 12 per cent better.

"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," lead study author Dean Busby, a professor in Brigham Young University's School of Family Life, said in a release.

Why does waiting produce these benefits?

"I think it's because they've learned to talk and have the skills to work with issues that come up," Prof. Busby said.

The benefits were about half as strong for couples who became sexually involved later in their relationship but before marriage, according to the release.

If you're thinking it's because couples who choose to wait do so because of religious beliefs - and those are responsible for all the extra happy feelings - you're wrong. The study's analysis controlled for religion.

"Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction," Prof. Busby said.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.