The 1 Piece of Marriage Advice We’ve Been Getting Wrong

unhappy couple in bed

Will having more sex really make you happier? A new study says maybe not -- in fact, more sex could make a couple less happy. What?? That's kind of the opposite of what we've always heard. How could this be?


For the study, Carnegie Mellon University researchers assigned randomly selected straight, married couples from a group to double their usual amount of weekly sex. (This is assuming the couples had sex at least once a week, I suppose?) Then the couples responded to a survey about how they felt.

Lo and behold, the couples who were assigned more sex homework reported slightly lower levels of happiness, lower sexual desire, and lower sexual satisfaction.

But what does it MEAN??? Don't run off with the notion that more sex = misery, the researchers say. They suspect something a little more nuanced is happening here. Maybe it's not the sex that gave couples the blues -- it was because it was assigned. Sex became a chore.

Oh wait, does that sound familiar? 

More from The Stir: Married Couples Reveal How Often They Have Sex

Here's how the study's lead researcher, George Loewenstein, explains the results.

Perhaps couples changed the story they told themselves about why they were having sex, from an activity voluntarily engaged in to one that was part of a research study. If we ran the study again, and could afford to do it, we would try to encourage subjects into initiating more sex in ways that put them in a sexy frame of mind, perhaps with babysitting, hotel rooms or Egyptian sheets, rather than directing them to do so.

In other words, why and how we have sex seems to be as important as how often we have sex. The researchers still believe couples don't do it often enough. But rather than just deciding to make love more often, we ought to make it easier and more fun to have more sex. 

Researcher Tamar Krishnamurti suggests, "Instead of focusing on increasing sexual frequency to the levels they experienced at the beginning of a relationship, couples may want to work on creating an environment that sparks their desire and makes the sex that they do have even more fun." Well shucks, I'll take any excuse to buy Egyptian sheets I can get.

Do you think having sex more often would make you happier?


Image via lightwavemedia/Shutterstock

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