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Newly Married Couples and Sexual Frequency

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Dec 16th 2010

Newly Married Couples and Sexual FrequencyA variation on an old Frank Sinatra song is "Sex and Marriage Go Together Like Horse and Carriage" The original title was "love and marriage go together...."

However, the divorce rate informs us that marriage frequently brings neither satisfaction nor happiness.

A study conducted by Michelle Russell and James McNulty of the University of Tennessee, was published in a journal called, Social Psychological and Personality Science. The authors found that frequency of sex overcomes unhappiness in couples who are neurotic. Neurotic, what is that?

The psychological term, neurotic is no longer in use because it was found to be too vague and too general to be useful for psychiatrists and psychologists. Today, there are more precise terms and specific diagnoses found in Diagnostic Statistic Manual, Volume four, also referred to as the DSM IV.

In a general way, neurosis is referred to such symptoms as anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, phobias, lethargy, compulsiveness, constant complaining and negativity, dependence, insecurity, social avoidance and isolation, insecurity about becoming attached to another person, and many other types of symptoms. All of this and more came under the umbrella of neurosis.

For purposes of this article, let's use the term and say that they are extremely unhelpful for relationships, especially in marriage. If a newly married couple are confronted with these types of symptoms in one or both of the spouses, it makes for an extremely unhappy marriage with a strong possibility of divorce in the future.

A piece of research conducted by Michelle Russel and James McNulty of the University of Tennessee was published in a journal called, Social Psychological and Personality Science. The title of the article is "Frequent Sex Protects Intimates from the Negative Implications of Their Neuroticism"

In other words, newly married couples who are neurotic but have frequent sex are found to be more satisfied with the marriage as compared to newly marrieds who are not neurotic. The study included follow up research of the marrieds four and more years afterwards.

Why is this so?

The authors of the research speculate that frequent sex (as much as three times a week and more) is reassuring for people who are anxious and insecure about themselves and their partners. Physical contact serves as a buffer against the symptoms that fall under the category of neurotic.

It has been my observation over many years of private practice that it is important for intimate couples, married or not, to engage in sexual intercourse. Lots of research shows that sex is healthy for people, reduces feelings of depression and stress and helps people feel closer to their partners. So, whether you are "neurotic" or not, perhaps more frequent sex with your partner will help you feel a lot better.

What are your observations and experiences with this? Your comments are, as always, encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz




Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

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