En español | One of the surest predictors of a breakup, says psychologist John Gottman, is when a couple comes to feel that certain problems have attached themselves to the relationship like crusty, stubborn barnacles.After turning this truism over in my mind for some time, I decided to collaborate with psychologist Lana Staheli to see if we couldn't find some everyday solutions to relationship stalemates.Is it better to assess sexual compatibility early in dating or to delay having sex? The Tempo of Sexual Activity and Later Relationship Quality. Note: Data are from the Marital and Relationship Survey. Let’s take a look at what research tells us about these questions. Sexual Restraint The current dating culture often emphasizes that two people should test their “sexual chemistry” before committing to each other.
Intimacy includes emotional and spiritual connectedness as well as physical connection.
Dating couples grow more and more intimate as they become more serious about the relationship.
Are these dating patterns compatible with the desire to have a loving and lasting marriage later?
In fact, couples who wait until marriage to have sex report higher relationship satisfaction (20% higher), better communication patterns (12% better), less consideration of divorce (22% lower), and better sexual quality (15% better) than those who started having sex early in their dating (see Figure 2).
These are important questions to ask since most single adults report that they desire to one day have a successful, lifelong marriage—and while dating, many couples move rapidly into sexual relationships. Couples who do nottest their sexual chemistry prior to the commitments of exclusivity, engagement, and marriage are often seen as putting themselves at risk of getting into a relationship that will not satisfy them in the future—thus increasing their probability of later marital dissatisfaction and divorce.
In fact, as noted in Figure 1, recent studies have found that between 30 and 40% of dating and married couples report having sex within one month of the start of their relationship, and the numbers are even higher for currently cohabiting couples. However, two recently published studies call into question the validity of testing sexual chemistry early in dating. This study involved a national sample of 2,035 married individuals who participated in the popular online couple assessment survey called “RELATE.” We found that the longer a dating couple waits to have sex, the better their relationship is after marriage.
Though the book was written primarily with long-term couples in mind, we both feel it applies to daters — and even extended family members.
And because many of the issues in the book are experienced almost universally in ongoing close relationships, I thought I'd share our five most widely applicable strategies.
In addition to what all of you saw on the blog, I have received dozens of questions and comments in e-mails, which I and the folks at Boundless have culled through to see what the most pressing questions seem to be.