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Waiting Works: Couples Who Wait Report 22% Happier Marriages (and Better Sex!)

January 6th, 2011 by

Note: Most of this is pulled from the Globe & Mail article “Couples who wait report better sex lives

Brigham Young University recently conducted a large study of 2,035 married individuals, aiming to determine which factors contribute to a “happy” marriage. One of the questions on the survey was “When did you become sexual in this relationship?”. Interestingly, the study found that the longer the couple waited to have sex, the better their marriage was. Those couples who had waited all the way until marriage to have sex exhibited the highest advantages.

According to the study findings, couples who waited till marriage to have sex had the following advantages…

These are hugely significant findings to the waiting-till-marriage community. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but as somebody who’s waited for a long time hoping that it would lead to a great marriage…I’m pretty f’ing psyched about the above statistics. And you should be too.

Quotes from the Study Author

Professor Dean Busby, who conducted the research, naturally had a few things to say about these findings…

Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction.

There’s more to a relationship than sex, but we did find that those who waited longer were happier with the sexual aspect of their relationship.

I think [people who wait have better marriages] because they’ve learned to talk and have the skills to work with issues that come up

Other Cool Facts about the Study

Read the whole article by Dave McGinn at Globe and Mail here: Couples who wait report better sex lives.

What this Means for Those who Wait

Look, you’ve been told your whole life that you’re making a noble decision by waiting till marriage. People say “oh, good for you”. But secretly you’ve had to wonder: “Is it? Is it good for me? Will it really make me happier in the end?” Well, now you know: According to the results of this study, there’s a good chance that you aren’t crazy afterall. So congrats, dear reader. You made the right decision. Rest a little easier tonight that the future holds good fruit for the seeds you’ve planted by waiting.

Author: Mike

Mike handles all of the programming and design work for WTM.org. Although he still writes the occasional article, he spends most of his time these days creating new site features and keeping everything organized. Mike is web software developer by day, and is in school to become an organizational psychologist. In his free time Mike enjoys running, biking, and movies.

27 Responses to “Waiting Works: Couples Who Wait Report 22% Happier Marriages (and Better Sex!)”

  1. Sara says:

    Can I have more details of the study? Like what age range was polled? How many people were polled? What was the percent of different religions? THanks!!

  2. Mike says:

    Whoops, the second link to the full article was broken, sorry. Have corrected it now. Also, here it is: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/couples-who-wait-report-better-sex-lives/article1847555/

    I think at one point I tracked down the full study, but you had to pay for anything beyond the abstract…which I may do at some point.

  3. Kristine says:

    ["People say “oh, good for you”. But secretly you’ve had to wonder: “Is it? Is it good for me? Will it really make me happier in the end?” Well, now you know: According to the results of this study, there’s a good chance that you aren’t crazy afterall. So congrats, dear reader. You made the right decision. Rest a little easier tonight that the future holds good fruit for the seeds you’ve planted by waiting."]

    This is one of the loudest, and consequentially most painful lies of the abstinence movement. As a 32 year old virgin I tearfully crucified my raging sex drive with the belief that this was true and that in marriage I would reap the benefits of what I was giving up now.

    But no one tells you that you might be one of the terminally single, an unmarriable, or become one of those hopeful/hopeless 57+ year-old virgins who enters menopause never having known sex, pregnancy or a family of their own. No one tells you that you might spend your whole life alone as the reward for the sex you said no to.

    If you only tell teens that they’ll be so happy they waited and that they’ll never regret it, they may resent you when they wake up alone in their thirties or beyond – and realize they’re not happy they’ve missed out and that they do regret it.

  4. Mike says:

    Hi Kristine,

    Thanks for your comment. Being a 28.5 year-old single virgin myself, believe me I understand a large amount of the bitterness you’re expressing. Except in my case, I don’t blame my waiting for not being married and not being happy. In my view, if I had chosen to have sex in all my past relationships, I’d still probably be in the same place I am now…just without that piece of me. Granted, I wouldn’t worry I had wasted the time so much. And I wouldn’t be paranoid about the possibility of getting old and never getting to experience sex when I’m remotely in my prime. But all of my other anger towards “the lie” that you grow up and meet your soulmate in your early 20s and live happily ever after — that would still very much be here, even if I had not waited.

    Loneliness and romantic disillusionment are not qualities exclusive to those who wait. Although they are that much more tragic when they affect somebody who waited.

    Personally, I’ve stopped caring about it so much. I’m 28 now, and based on the fact that I’m switching careers and purposefully destabilizing my life, I highly doubt I’ll be in a position to marry until I’m in my late 30s. I’ve come to terms with this. And most of all, I don’t feel like me waiting is preventing me from meeting Ms. Right. I feel like my position in life and my state of being not-yet-actualized (not yet at the place where I’m going to be) is preventing me from meeting Ms. Right.

    If I end up a hopeless 57 year old virgin, I may regret waiting, but only because I would know in hindsight that I wouldn’t meet anybody remotely special from ages 28-58 and that all my good relationships are already behind me. But again here, that sucks on it’s own, waiting or not.

    I agree that you shouldn’t go around telling teens that waiting is the best thing in the world and that they’re going to live happily ever after and it’s going to work out great for them. Really, nobody should make any decision like that solely on somebody else’s sales pitch. But in the same vein, it’s equally as unrealistic to say “One day you’ll meet Mr./Ms. right and get married!” whether or not abstinence is even on the table. I can point to just as many lonely old sluts and man-whores as I can lonley old virgins.

    I feel for your situation, I really do. Because I’m in it with you. It’s my situation too. But what can you do about it? How would things be different if you’d been having sex this whole time? Would you be more outgoing in pursuing dates? You might be less selective about choosing dates, but would you be less selective about who you marry? Are you turning down guys now that you wouldn’t have to if you weren’t waiting? How much better do you really think your life would look with sex? For me, I think my life would look the same, just with one less hangup…and one less thing driving me.

    But look, I don’t know your situation. Maybe you’re the type who has amazing guys beating down your door and you keep turning them away because they’re not virgins too, or they turn you away because you won’t do anything with them. Those could both be legit reasons for reevaluating your position on things and/or being justifiably bitter.

    Anyhow, sorry for rambling. I should go to bed. I hope some of that makes sense. I’d like to know more of your story. If it’s any consolation, I can guarantee you that I’ll at least make it to being a 32 year old virgin, and very probably beyond, and I’m OK with it. So it is doable haha.

  5. elisheva says:

    The percentage difference seems a lot but it isn’t really. the results were actually less than one. The scale of the answer was one to five and slightly more people who waited chose four rather than three which is what more people who didn’t wait chose. That is hardly significant. Look at the following link and read the comments at the end. It’s very interesting.
    http://www.economist.com/node/17956905

  6. Undoubtedly my mind drifted back to the famous words, “To gain that which is worth having it may be necessary to lose everything else..”.

  7. Tuala Williams Shields says:

    I am 42 years old and was married Sept. 3, 2011. This is my second marriage and we waited. I had be abstinent since my divorce over 19 years ago. I’ve tried it both ways and I am soooo glad I waited this time. The report is true for us.

    It is God who determines when you are ready, but you have to be willing to be made ready. He began preparing me for marriage in 2006. I had begun to believe it would never happen to me and had even been told it would not. I was too strong, I was told. Men were intimidated by me. But God began teaching me how to love a man.

    I held fast to my convictions and was surprised time after time to meet men who told me they believed I was worth the wait. Still, they were not the right one. Finally, after I was ready and had been through several relationships which I allowed to make me better, not bitter, the right one for me came along.

    Our relationship is so easy it’s unbelievable. We have great communication. We don’t fight, but we do disagree. We discuss it and then its over. We focus on pleasing each other, not ourselves. And best of all, Christ is the center. He put us together and we did it His way.

    When men used to press me for sex, I used to tell them, “I want it too. But I want something more than that.” Now, I have it.

    “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36.

  8. ThatGuy says:

    Hi Tuala,

    Thank you for sharing your amazing, inspiring story. I love the Book of Hebrews and I’m going to try to commit that Bible verse to memory now.

    Even though you’re already married, and loving it :-), I think you could be a great source of encouragement and guidance to many in this site, as well as meet some cool people along the way. Feel free to register in the forums. I personally would love to have you as a member.

  9. EyeAmNiceGirl says:

    Curious about this study. The take-home line of the study was that couples who waited to have sex with EACH OTHER had better marriages. Did the same study also compare the sub-groups of male and female virgins marrying, male non-virgin female virgin marrying, female non-virgin and male virgin marrying, and neither man or woman a virgin marrying (yet still abstaining with respect to since they met each other). Not to poo-poo on the good message that is sent, I just wonder the relative “happiness” of the virgin-virgin (who obviously abstained) compared to the nonvirgin-nonvirgin who happen to have abstained.

  10. Adee says:

    I’m 18 and this blog has just given me more reason to stay a virgin until my marriage day . Sooo Inspirational !! :)

  11. Bella says:

    I am 24 years old and I believe in waiting until marriage. This website reassured me to continue waiting because the man that will be my husband one day will accept me for who “I am” and not for what ill be offering him. I admire all of you who hold strong and don’t give in to lust. Sex isn’t bad, it’s a beautiful thing but I believe its a gift to give to the one who will be your husband.

  12. Susy says:

    This is ridiculous you know why because its only women who are actually replying to this blog meaning it is probably most likely to be only the women who are planning to stay with the cherry until wed just like the old days again and the men are not abstaining because all the men are going to do is just find some other chick to sleep with then they will marry their fresh virgin wife.
    Yay for men he has just won a trophy wife to show off or even worse he has a inexperienced woman on his hands that he doesn’t have to worry about her cheating on him she’s only had the one lover!!!

    Hence the virgin woman will assume that her man was actually a virgin when he wasn’t or even worse her soulmate.
    Same old shit again their just never seems to be an end to the sufferings of the innocent or justice either.

  13. Susy says:

    I have come to the harsh conclusion of my virginity being due to the fact that i reject men who may be single and virgins unknowing. I don’t actually reject them its just that men other then relatives don’t really talk to me that much.
    Its very fair to say that men reject me and have been rejecting me for a very long time now its just hard to admit it sometimes.
    It’s just rejection is more painful when you don’t even know what you’re missing this is rejection.

    These same men are equally guilty of rejecting me also for quite possibly the same reason unknowing that i am single.

    Also i want to believe i have a soulmate out there hopefully i want to believe there are thousands of soulmates out there for me out of the 7 billion on the planet.

  14. jessica says:

    I have come to the harsh conclusion of my virginity being due to the fact that i reject men who may be single and virgins unknowing. I don’t actually reject them its just that men other then relatives don’t really talk to me that much.
    Its very fair to say that men reject me and have been rejecting me for a very long time now its just hard to admit it sometimes.
    It’s just rejection is more painful when you don’t even know what you’re missing this is rejection.

    These same men are equally guilty of rejecting me also for quite possibly the same reason unknowing that i am single.

    Also i want to believe i have a soulmate out there hopefully i want to believe there are thousands of soulmates out there for me out of the 7 billion on the planet.

  15. still a virgin says:

    I’ve been married for two years and my wife and I are still virgins. She is psychologically incapable of having sex even though she wants to. Thousands of dollars in medical consulting haven’t changed this at all. This of course came as a complete surprise to us as we were patiently waiting until we were married to experiment with sex.

    We now have the challenge of building a sex-free marriage.

    This would be difficult enough without the extreme disappointment we felt after having been so thoroughly indoctrinated that waiting until marriage would result in a happier marriage and a better sex life. Please stop spreading this lie!

    If you believe that waiting until marriage is the right thing to do then that’s what you should do. But please don’t repeat our mistake of anticipating any sort of marital bliss as a reward for doing so.

  16. Mike says:

    @still a virgin – I’m sorry you’re going through that. Would you mind sharing the diagnosis?

  17. Melissa Johnson says:

    Hi Mike,

    First of all I would like to say I am happy to have stumbled upon your website and am happy that young people are trying to spread a positive message.

    Let me get to the point of my post. Many of you who seem to be upset with Mike for posting something that is, just right, really should not be upset even if you do not agree with the message, or have experienced negative circumstances in keeping yourself. What I want to know is, whatever happened to just wanting to do something because it is the right thing to do? In a world where so many young people and old people are giving something so precious as their virginity away, why can’t you see yourselves as having done what is right as unto the Lord. Can’t you just look at it as you are pleasing the Lord by obeying His word? First Samuel 15:22 says “Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices (your sacrifice of having sex), as in obeying the voice (word) of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice…” The Lord is delighted in you because you have obeyed Him. That is awesome to be delighted in by the Lord! Believe me, I look back at my life and regret that I did not wait until marriage. You have what some of us can never get back. I would love to be able to say I waited until marriage, even if there were issues. I would love to be able to say that I obeyed the Lord. Hope this helps someone.

    Thanks again Mike for your inspirational thoughts!

  18. Ashley says:

    Im about to be 22 in a week and im still a virgin. I have a bf and we been dating for 8mpnths now, its been a struggle… A emotional and draining one. I fel as though I have already lost a bit of myself by dating him. I wanna say to mike that this has really encouraged me. Over the past few weeks ive been doubting myself, along withy virginity. You see im a youth leader, and me telling my girls to stay pure, while im being tempted is harder than anything. I keep myself pure for them cause im their role model. And with my bf my purity is a matter of question. I wanna stay to anyone reading, never do anything thay makes you uncomfortable or makes you doubt yourself. Love who you are before you sumbit yourself to someone. Youronly a virgin once..

  19. Random says:

    Here is why you should save yourself till marriage

    Romance without regrets by Jason Evert

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REj1rhc4RUk

  20. Genuinely Concerned says:

    @still a virgin
    >I’ve been married for two years and my wife and I are still virgins.

    This….can’t be real.

    I don’t think abstinence is your problem. This sounds more serious. Have you talked to your psychiatrist about possible sexual abuse in your past? There may be possible repression that contributes to your shame about sex. Maybe you have an over-idealistic perception of your partner. Or maybe you’re gay?

    Because virgins, especially married ones, will always try sex at least once. In fact, that’s just human nature.

  21. Lauren says:

    I think it’s cool and all that people who want to wait do, but I, as someone who has had multiple sexual partners (and don’t regret it), honestly have to wonder if the reason those that do report higher sexual satisfaction is because they’ve never known any other partner. Just a possible hole I can see in the research. It was self-reporting, right? Not like they invited a psychologist to observe their marriage bed.

  22. Mike says:

    @Lauren – Haha yeah. I don’t think the psychologists were watching the couples through a one-way mirror and operationalizing “sexual satisfaction” as “number of moans per minute” or anything like that. Definitely self-report.

    And what you said is totally reasonable, of course: Couples who waited could report higher satisfaction because they don’t know any different. But technically, that in itself is a benefit. There’s a related concept in relationship science called “perceived superiority.” Short version: Happy couples think they’re better, and that in itself is a sign of commitment and satisfaction. That goes for non-waiter couples as well.

    So even if their sex isn’t technically more satisfying than they could get elsewhere, the fact that they think it is is just as important and beneficial as if it were.

    Note: I always hesitate to discuss the benefits of waiting (I’ll write articles about it, but that’s different than talking about it conversation haha). I hate putting people on the defensive (most of my friends are non-waiters, and I wouldn’t change them for the world). There are pros and cons to each path, IMHO. I’m just arguing that this particular benefit might be legitimate, even if the chain of causality is a little murky.

    Anyhow, thanks for the thoughtful comment!

  23. 1 life says:

    hi mike, thank you for tis website its good to see that their are also others who out there waiting..
    to those who do not believe, let me say this, love is not about feeling and emotions but about a choice. u choose to love someone and stand by them regardless of ta situations around u. likewise to wait until marriage is not about emotions and feelings but about a choice. u choose to wait not becos of wat others may say but becos u know that tis is the right thing to do to urself, ur husband, and ur children. the best wedding gift tat u can give to ur husband is to give urself pure to him. as a 25 yr old virgen i am blessed to have waited until today.
    blessed day to u all..

  24. just my opinion says:

    Like the article and about what Lauren said may be true but there is always the other side. None waiters can also say their happy because they also do not know the waiters way.

    People desire if they are happy with there lives or not. But I still stay with waiting(there are less baggage,worries,complications and stress to worry about in my perspective)

    Have a lovely day!!!

  25. Less says:

    So we use sex as a sort of mechanism to help keep our marriage “better” and the sex “more enjoyable”..although if you’re a virgin, how would it be known that it in fact is? Virginities are being used as objects now a days, they are seen as things that make us who we are and if we lose it, we lose ourselves. This entire website would make somebody that has had three partners feel like complete crap. I do not think being a promiscuous person is the way to go and I think it’s disgusting to give yourself away to everyone but sometimes things happen and people change but that doesn’t mean they are not worthy of love due to the mistakes they had made. I used to believe waiting until marriage was perfect until of course I turned 16 and things happened, I’m with the same person now and I don’t regret it. Sex is a special thing but it does not form who we are and it is not something that can be used as a crutch to a marriage .

  26. Google@MissChristiLuv says:

    <3

  27. pee says:

    The issue of virginity and losing it is a very complex issue,I am a 19 year old virgin and I believe that sex is a huge step to take and so is marriage,people get married as virgins,have sex,pop babies and then divorce,that’s too much of a heartache, and marriage is a gift from God,not everyone is gonna get married at the end of the day. I choose to wait because I’m honoring God with my body and I don’t want to find myself getting married because I can’t wait ti have sex. I want to have sex because I’m ready and its the right time,with the right person
    If u haven’t done,it yet,wait and if the the wait is not worth it at the end,be proud that u did anyway

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