What affect does premarital sex have on a marriage?

Jay Dee

What affect does premarital sex have on a marriage?

Mar 17, 2015

Last week I put out our premarital sex survey because I’d been getting a lot of comments, emails, etc. talking about how people felt their premarital sex, even if it was with their now spouse, had damaged their marriage.  As well, after our post Is my married

What effect does premarital sex have on a marriageLast week I put out our premarital sex survey because I’d been getting a lot of comments, emails, etc. talking about how people felt their premarital sex, even if it was with their now spouse, had damaged their marriage.  As well, after our post Is my married sex life ruined because I had sex before marriage? we got a lot of questions asking how common this was.  There are a lot of people thinking they are the only ones in their situation.  If they had sex before marriage, they think they’re one of the few Christians who fell to this temptation.  If they didn’t, they think they’re one of the few Christians who made it to marriage as virgins…and then wonder if it was worth the effort.

So, we put this survey out to help answer a lot of these questions, in the hopes that more of you will recognize you aren’t alone in your struggles, but also to, hopefully, help us to better understand how sex before marriage can affect our marital sex lives, and thus be better armed when speaking with our kids, so we don’t have to give the traditional Christian answer of “You just don’t!”

So, on with our survey responses.

Simple Data

First we’ll deal with straight answers to the questions.  Later we’ll dig a bit more.

Total respondents: 407 (Woo, broke 400!).  174 (43%) women, 228 (56%) men, and 5 (1%) who abstained from telling what their gender is.

Are you happy with the quantity of sex in your marriage?

47% of women are happy with the quantity.  Only 27% of men are.  Together, this is 36% of spouses are happy with the quantity of sex in their marriage.  That’s unfortunate.

7% of wives would like less and 46% would like more.

0% of husbands would like less leaving 73% would like more.

Of course, this is representative of our community here.  Sadly, we have a high number of wives who are refused by their husbands, and those husbands aren’t represented in these numbers.  I often see comments asking why women aren’t interested in solving sexual issues, in being more adventurous, in wanting more sex, etc.  However, I’d argue that we have far more low-drive wives in our community here at Sex Within Marriage than we do low-drive husbands.  It would seem that, in fact, generally wives are more willing to work on this than men.  Of course, wanting to work on something you have a high drive for is axiomatic (having a self-evident quality, this is my new favorite word).

Are you happy with the quality of sex in your marriage?

70% of wives are happy with the quality.  So, seems most like sex…they just want more.  At least, in our very pro-sex community.  30% are not, and in many cases, their comments make me want to sit their husbands down and teach them a thing or two.

52% of men are happy with the quality of sex.  Pretty close to half.  Of course, this leaves 48% who are not.  Again, some of their comments…well, I think some wives would enjoy sex a lot more if they made more of an effort.  No all, I know plenty of you do, especially our readers.  But your friends who aren’t so sex positive…we need to fix this somehow.  I’m doing my best.

Did you grow up in a Christian home?

82% of our readers grew up in Christian homes, regardless of gender.  Not really surprising really.  It’s a bit sad if you think about it.  The vast majority of Christians who read this blog have been Christians there whole life.  This means we’re not doing a great job of preaching the good news.  I wish we, as Christians, were better at evangelizing.  I’m still trying to learn this skill…or passion…or whatever it is.  But I am trying.  I hope you are too.

Where you taught, while growing up, to abstain from sex before marriage?

79% of women said yes, 81% of men.  I would have thought that would be higher.  I would hope all Christian homes teach this, and I had hoped some of the non-Christian homes would still hold to this moral guideline.

Turns out they do.  30% of men and 38% of women who grew up in non-Christian homes were taught not to have sex before marriage.   What’s sad is that 12% of women and 9% of men who grew up in Christian homes were not taught this.

Did you make a decision to remain a virgin until marriage when you were younger?

50% of women did, 52% of men.  If you grew up in a Christian home, that goes up a bit to 56% for women and 60% for men.  If not, 22% of women, and 15% of men.

I find it interesting that in the Christian homes, the men seemed more convicted to make a decision than the women.  Outside of the Christian homes, this dynamic is reversed.  I wonder if Christian boys are taught they need to protect/lead more, and in non-Christian homes the girls are taught they need to guard themselves more.  I don’t know, just speculation.

Did you have sex before marriage?

Manual sex: 60% said yes, 24% said yes, but only with their future spouse, 16% said no.  Only 16% managed to abstain from manual sex prior to marriage.  Wow.

Oral sex: 51% said yes, 20% said yes, but only with their future spouse, 29% said no.  One in three managed to overcome this temptation.

Anal sex: 11% said yes, 5% said yes, but only with their future spouse, 84% said no.  This isn’t surprising.  Except that if you consider that in our survey on anal sex and anal play, 73% of people have never had anal sex. So, if you factor out 73% who never had it, the numbers become: 41% said yes, 19% said only with their future spouse, and 41% said no.  That’s pretty astounding I think!

Sexual intercourse: I didn’t split the previous ones by gender, because they were only 1-2% different from men to women in all categories.  But, here we have a larger discrepancy.  Let’s start with women.

58% of wives said yes.  15% said yes, but only with their future spouse, and 27% said no.

47% of husbands said yes, 20% said yes, but only with their future spouse, and 33% said no.

Wait a minute.  Hold on.  Aren’t we taught that men are the more sexual gender?  That they are the ones pushing for sex?  That they are the ones you have to watch out for, to protect your daughters from, that they only want one thing?  Turns out…the men seem to have a bit more self control.  I was surprised by how many comments I read from husbands saying they wish they hadn’t succumbed to their girlfriends/fiancee’s advances, that they didn’t want to, but were afraid of losing them.  Doesn’t that just stand everything you know on it’s head?

I’d made the suggestion before that it seems in biblical times, that women had the higher sex drives, that men were to ensure that the wives were sexually fulfilled, and that something has gone horribly wrong in our society to shift this dynamic in marriage.  This hypothesis seems to be holding true.  I get so many comments saying that prior to marriage, women are sexually assertive, available, adventurous and generous (sorry, didn’t have another ‘a’ word), and then suddenly after marriage, something changes and they become reserved, reluctant, remiss and selfish (sorry, no more ‘r’ words).  What is it that has happened?  What have we done?  More importantly, how do we fix it?  I’ll let you know when I have an answer!

And no, I don’t think it’s as simple as a bait and switch, because many of these wives are quite frustrated themselves by the change that comes on as soon as they are married.  There is something larger and systemic at play, I believe.  I think I have the workings of a concept, but currently lack the words to express it.  I’ll continue to try though through my writing.

Did you live with a sexual partner prior to marriage?

23% of wives said yes, 17% said yes, but only with their future spouse, 60% said no.

19% of husbands said yes, 12% said yes, but only with their future spouse, 69% said no.

Have you ever been divorced?

88% said no, 12% said yes.  I had expected the “yes” number to be higher… After all, aren’t we taught that 50% of Christians get divorced?  Maybe it’s not quite true…

Have you ever had an affair?

16% said yes, 84% said no.  And I don’t want to hear anyone saying that women have affairs more often, at least not in this community.  They’re even.  Unless they’re lying…I can’t test that, but neither can you.

If you had any sexual activity before marriage, do you feel it had a negative impact on your marriage?

51% said no, 49% said yes.  Granted, this is a highly subjective response.  But, I thought it was worth asking anyways.

Data correlations

Alright, let’s see if we can find any interesting patterns. I haven’t looked yet.  I always find this the most exciting part…yeah, I’m a numbers geek.  Seriously, I go through dozens of permutations of data to see if I can find some correlation that is holding some unique piece of knowledge I wasn’t aware of.  I hope you guys enjoy it too.  Lucky for you, I do all the hard work of finding things that have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

For example: Spouses who are the sole child in their family have slightly less sex, on average, than people with more kids in their family.  Like 92 times per year vs. say a first born at 104 times per year on average.  Not really statistically important.  But, I checked…

Interestingly enough though, 1% more of them than First Born spouses wish they had more sex.  See, not really statistically important.  Barely even interesting.  However, what is interesting is that 11.5% of only children (solo children?  what’s the best way to refer to them?  Only childs seems wrong…) wish they had less sex.  In fact, they bring the average up so much that without them, only 2.4% of wives want less sex (instead of the 7% we stated earlier).  What is it about wives that were single children that makes them want less sex?

They’re also the least happy with the quality of sex as well (48% being unhappy, against the 40% of those with siblings).  Alright, now this is getting a little interesting.  I wonder if not having siblings makes them more self-centric, and so if things aren’t the way they want it, they’re more easily unhappy.  Or perhaps they learn fewer conflict resolution skills never having had to deal with siblings and so they suffer in silence more instead of voicing their concerns and resolving it.  Well, this just brings more questions than answers…

Statistically, they are also more likely to be grow up in non-Christian homes (26% vs. 17%), which I’m guessing has to do with the whole “be fruitful and multiply” commandment, but again, that’s just a guess.  But, this in turn makes them less likely to be taught to abstain (70% vs. 80%), which in turn seems to make them more likely to have some type of sex before marriage (93% vs 88%).

Which leads me to the question: Does sex before marriage have a negative effect on your marriage?

There are two ways of looking at this.  We can ask people, which is highly subjective and we get nearly a 50/50 split.  Or, we can look at the data, which is also subjective, but less obviously so, so it might be more reliable.

So, let’s segregate by those that had any type of sex before marriage (manual, oral, etc.) and see what we get:

Those that had sex before marriage:

  • Have sex 1.9 times per week (99 times per year)
  • 36% are happy with the quantity of sex
  • 58% are happy with the quality of sex
  • 13% have had a divorce
  • 17% have had an affair

Those that did not have any sex before marriage:

  • Have sex 2.4 times per week (125 times per year)
  • 33% are happy with the quantity of sex
  • 67% are happy with the quality  of sex
  • 2% have had a divorce
  • 6% have had an affair

!!! Did you read those? !!!

Alright, so to recap, no sex before marriage means (on average):

  • Sex once more every 2 weeks (a 26% increase)
  • More likely to be happy with the quality of sex in your marriage (my guess is because you have no prior partners to compare to, or any “pre-marriage taboo” exciting sex)
  • You’re significantly less likely to get a divorce (13% down to 2%)
  • You’re significantly less likely to have an affair (17% down to 6%)

That’s pretty substantial I think!

So, 50% think it hasn’t had a negative affect on their marriage what-so-ever.  Let’s look at their answers:

  • They’re having sex 1.9 times per week on average
  • 37% are happy with the quantity of sex
  • 60% are happy with the quality of sex
  • 11% have been divorced
  • 16% have had an affair

No…no negative impact at all…. just in 4 of the 5 categories we measured…but hey, they’re content having less sex, so they get a point there.

Of course, these are statistical averages.

Does being raised Christian make a difference?

If you were raised in a Christian home and were taught to abstain from sex before marriage, then you have a significantly higher chance of making a commitment to being a virgin your wedding day (84% instead of 16%).  100% of those that didn’t take a stance, ended up having sex.  100%.  Sadly only 23% of those who did make a commitment to abstain followed through with it.

So, here’s how it breaks down in our survey:

  • 100% of those who grew up in non-Christian homes had some kind of sex before marriage.
  • 100% of those who grew up in a Christian home, but weren’t taught to save themselves for marriage had some kind of sex before marriage.
  • If you grew up Christian, being taught that sex is for marriage only,andmade a commitment to waiting until marriage then:
    • 27% avoided manual sex
    • 48% avoided oral sex
    • 92% avoided anal sex
    • 60% avoided sexual intercourse
    • 87% won’t live with a sexual partner prior to marriage

So, does being raised Christian make a difference?  No. Being raise a Christian, being taught that sex is to be reserved for marriage and then making a commitment to follow through with that makes a difference.  But you can’t force your kids to make a commitment.  You can only do your part:

  1. Raise them in a Christian home
  2. Teach them that sex is to be saved for marriage

Oh, and if you have an only child.  Either have more, or be very intentional about teaching them about sex.  Apparently not having siblings gets you into trouble…

Should Christians live together before getting married?

Alright, I get a lot of arguments about this.  People saying that you have to make sure you’re sexually compatible and all that stuff.  So, let’s look at the data (I haven’t yet).

Those who lived with a sexual partner prior to marriage have a divorce rate of 25% compared to 5%.  Oh, and if you say “Yeah, but it was only with my future spouse” I’m going to throw back “But you didn’t know that at the time.  You hoped, but you didn’t know.”

They also have a 29% chance of having an affair.  That’s nearly 1 in 3.  Compared to the 9% of those that didn’t.  That’s fairly significant.

So, no, living together is a terrible idea!

The only possible argument you have is that those that lived together before getting married tend to have more sex than those that didn’t (2 times per week vs. 1.8 times per week).  However, I’m going to refer you back to the data that states those that didn’t have any sex prior to marriage are beating you by double that margin, on average (2.4 times per week).  So…better off just not having sex before marriage.

So, what do you do now?

Let’s say you had sex before marriage.  Let’s say you lived together.  What now?  Is your sex life doomed?  By no means.  I didn’t make it to marriage completely clean either.  My (now) wife and I caved, even though we had both made commitments, even though we were taught, even though we were raised in Christian homes.  It’s not guaranteed to stop you.  I’ll tell you, we struggled for a long time with things like guilt and mistrust and confusion over what this meant, even though we never even kissed anyone besides each other.

But, God is good.  He forgives, and He heals, and if you can accept that forgiveness and healing, you can beat these statistics.  Look at us.  We’ve gone from a sexless marriage to being called Christian sex educators!  No one but God can do that, but thank God He can!  He did it for us.  He can make similar changes in your marriage.

 

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