Who Stays Married Longer?

It looks like people who have had less sexual partners before marriage.

There is a National Survey of Family Growth with numbers from 2006-2010 that indicates, after the first five years of marriage, almost 95% of both men and women (who had only one sexual partner – each other) were still married. That percentage dramatically declines as the number of sexual partners before marriage increases.

It’s just a correlation – it doesn’t tell us which causes which. Does promiscuity before marriage cause the union to crumble afterwards? Is being married too much of a commitment for people who were promiscuous?

But it does indicate that lasting marriages and promiscuity don’t mix well.  Marriage has always been about someone else. Promiscuity has always been about me.

300-3-married-college

Our values about sexual behavior have dramatically changed in the recent decades.  Our behaviors may not have changed that much, but the stigma associated with having sex…

  • as a teenager, still in school,
  • before marriage,
  • on a first date,
  • with a stranger, or
  • with someone of the same sex

has faded as our values (what we believe) about freedom and sexual activity have changed, especially for women. People are acting and thinking differently about sexuality because American values about personal freedom, social liberty and individuality inspire new values and come into conflict with others.

If the local Christian community can’t demonstrate and communicate effectively the reasons and rewards for marriage, faithfulness, commitment and sacrifice, values that have sustained the family will never stick. Families will continue to fragment.

About Randy Wilson

Professor of Sociology at Houston Baptist University I read, think and write about religion and culture in the United States. It's very interesting and very complicated but incredibly exciting. For many years I have been trying to figure out how people learn best (my students and myself). The classes I teach are always in a state of experimentation - trying to reorganize around what students bring to the table and where we have to go.

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