There is a new study out of Florida State University that examines the attitude people have toward sexual relationships and how this affects marriage and long-term commitment. Here researchers surveyed 204 heterosexual married couples who were newly married and then followed up with them years later.
The study focused on the activity outside their committed relationships and whether it predicts the dissolution of the marriage. The relationships were measured using attachment insecurity, length of the relationship, depression, and neuroticism.
Committed versus uncommitted
Those favoring committed relationships with strong bonds to a partner had a stronger emphasis on relations. This can lead to problems, mainly if the committed relationship is not a positive one.
According to researchers, the subjects who had a more positive attitude toward unrestricted casual sex often started their marriages with a lower level of satisfaction and tended to remain that way. This also often led to a steeper decline in satisfaction and the eventual dissolution of the marriage. While partners may change after marriage, maintaining a long-term relationship may be more difficult for them.
One important caveat
Nevertheless, the study also points out that couples with unrestricted attitudes towards sex are not necessarily doomed. According to researchers, unrestricted partners who report frequent, satisfying sex, or reported lower levels of stress were just as likely to remain in a relationship as more restrictive couples.
Finding common ground
Couples who communicate their expectations regarding commitment will often have a better chance of success. The difficulties lie in the fact that that they may not have the same expectations. If counseling did not work, and there is no common ground in this area, it likely is best to explore the possibility of divorce.