A satisfying sexual relationship is an important aspect of general marital satisfaction. Considering that most people will marry, understanding the factors influencing marital sexual satisfaction becomes important in understanding what makes happy, satisfied relationships and individuals in our society. This study builds on previous research, which has indicated that there are a number of "risky factors" associated with having numerous premarital sexual partners, by demonstrating that there are risks associated with the future marital relationship. Using exchange theory concepts, this study empirically examines the relationship between premarital sexual promiscuity and marital sexual satisfaction. The sample included 313 married males and females between the ages of 18-40 using data from the NHSLS survey, a United States national random sample. The dichotomous dependent variable combined measures of emotional and physical sexual satisfaction. Premarital sexual promiscuity was measured continuously. Implications for clinicians are discussed.

Of males, 87.7% reported being extremely satisfied with their marital sexual relationship and 12.3% reported being moderately satisfied. Of females, 84.6% of reported extreme satisfaction and 15.4% reported moderate satisfaction with their marital sexual relationship. The range of partners including the marital partner was 1-191 for men and 1-66 for women. The mean number of partners was 11.35 (SD 19.77) for men and 4.25 (SD 6.3) for women.

Results indicate that for every additional premarital sexual partner an individual has, not including the marital sexual partner, the likelihood that they will say their current marital sexual relationship is extremely satisfying versus only being moderately satisfying goes down 3.9%. Additionally, when running models separately for males and females, the male model was more significant at 5.3%. The female model approached significance. Control variables for the models were not significant except that males who were not White, Black, or Hispanic, were 8.9% less likely than White males to report being extremely satisfied with their marital sexual relationship as compared to only being moderately satisfied. This model does not account for individuals who had sex with their spouse before marriage and the results should not be interpreted to include such.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage and Family Therapy



Date Submitted


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sexual satisfaction, sexual promiscuity, premarital effects, NHSLS, gender differences