A friend of mine was having some really crappy marriage troubles. She was pretty much hating her husband, who was acting bitchy and whiny about everything. We were talking frequently, as we do, and I asked how things were going after a couple of weeks of this.
“Better,” she said. “I had sex with him, and all of a sudden he was like a kitten.”
“You had sex with him when he was being such an asshole?”
“He was being an asshole because we weren’t having sex.”
Well, it worked for them. A new study says that frequent sex can improve a lousy marriage -- but only if you’re both neurotic. Good news for me!
The study, published in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science, specifically studied neurotic people (you know, the characters in every single Woody Allen movie) in romantic relationships, and compared them to, you know, normal people.
They found that frequent sex doesn’t make that big a different in most marriages -- but in ones where both people are neurotic, it makes a big difference.
So I guess this means my husband and I need to schedule a second honeymoon at Hedonism.
The study defines “neurotic” as having “a general tendency to experience negative affects.” So, maybe, getting kicked off one’s neighborhood Yahoo! Parents list because you can’t keep your mouth shut when someone says something stupid? Or getting mad at the ticket-taker at the Academy of Science because the ticket booth is in a different place? Or being a standup comic, ever? Yeah, I’d say my husband and I qualify.
The study followed 72 newlywed couples over four years. Most were in their early 20s and white. They had to make out questionnaires to determine how neurotic they were at the outset, and then report their sexual frequency and marital satisfaction at various intervals over the years.
The more neurotic they described themselves as, the more dramatically their marriages improved when they were having a lot of sex.
Why is this the case? The answer, they say, is simple: Being neurotic is negative; sex is positive. While the negative stuff can eat away at a relationship, sex has the opposite effect. So if you’re having tons of sex, you make up for the negative pull of your neurotic behavior.
It makes sense. It’s cheaper than marriage counseling. Guess we’d better get to it. Anyone up for babysitting?
Does sex make your relationship better? Do you think that means you're neurotic?
Image via Brianna Lehman/Flickr