Sexless marriage and other relationship statistics

Dalrock’s recent post on Wilcox motivated me to dredge this up from my drafts folder about 8 months ago.

According to Nicholas B Wolfinger, one of the authors:

Approximately 85 percent of Americans will marry in their lifetimes. Most will stay married, and most of these marriages will be happy. These are incontrovertible facts backed by survey after survey.

We already know that 40-50% of marriages end in divorce, depending on who you get your statistics from. I don’t see how that is a happy outcome in most cases. Of course, this is too common, so lets look at some other factors.

Statistics

A few years back, some of us as SSM’s were speculating how many marriages were actually sexless and/or unhappy even though they stayed together. I found some stats after stumbling onto a wiki about it.

A sexless marriage is a marriage in which little or no sexual activity occurs between the two spouses. The US National Health and Social Life Survey in 1994 (Laumann et al. 1994) found that 2% of the married respondents reported no sexual intimacy in the past year. The definition of a non-sexual marriage is often broadened to include those where sexual intimacy occurs fewer than ten times per year, in which case 20 percent of the couples in the National Health and Social Life Survey would be in the category. Newsweek magazine estimates that 15 to 20 percent of couples are in a sexless relationship.[1] Studies show that 10% or less of the married population below age 50 have not had sex in the past year. In addition less than 20% report having sex a few times per year, or even monthly, under the age 40.[2]

It appears that ~20% of marriages are what we would call sexless (<10 times per year) or about once a month.

We don’t know how many of these marriages are going to end up in divorce. Some of these are headed for divorce for whatever reason. We don’t really know how much adultery or other factors are going on either.

Other data show similar qualities:

More than 7 times a week: 3%
7 times a week: 1%
6 times a week: 3%
5 times a week: 9%
4 times a week: 11%
3 times a week: 13%
2 times a week: 21%
once a week: 25%
once a month: 8%
less than once a month: 9%

Approximately 17% (once a month to less than once a month) are sexless. I would assume that most “once a weekers” are probably unhappy with that. The sex drive of men is typically higher than that of women, but women can become dissatisfied with lack of frequency as well.

We know that at the lowest 40% of marriages end in divorce. So if we assume that most of the sexless ~20% of marriages end in divorce, a large portion of those in the 25% once a week range are going to divorce as well. This doesn’t take into account the potential dissolution of marriages with more frequency sex that have other problems.

I would suspect many of the cases with the approximate “once a week” don’t actually do it “once a week” but are rather clustered together around a woman’s ovulation cycle. So maybe the week when said wife was ovulating. Otherwise, it’d just be another sexless marriage.

If you take the “once a weekers” with the sexless marriager, you get approximately 43% low sex marriages and 57% higher sex marriages. Not too far off from the regularly quoted divorce statistics.

More interesting is this:

How is your marriage set up?

Husband leads/in control: 22%
Equal, but husband is “more equal”: 33%
Egalitarian: 27%
Equal, but wife is “more equal”: 13%
Wife leads/in control: 4%

We know that sex is commanded by the Scriptures in 1 Cor 7, but headship-submission and love-respect is also commanded.

The interesting split between the husband or “more husband led” marriages to the egalitarian and wife run marriages are 55% to 45%. The fact that the 45% of egalitarian or wife run marriages mirrors the divorce statistics isn’t exactly that surprising to me.

Do you find your sex life fulfilling?

Yes: 53%
No: 47%

The fact that it mirrors the divorce statistics is not at all surprising either.

longitudinalmarriageresearch

Some longitudinal research on marriage indicates that the greatest predictors of marital stability are:

  • For both: the highest are Marital satisfaction and Sexual satisfaction
  • Husband/family Income and masculinity for men
  • Age, age at marriage, education, and Husband/family income for women
  • For couples: positive behavior and attitude homogeny

The Scriptures are indeed wise ranking sexual satisfaction and specific roles and responsibilities high on the lists.

Of course, negative indicators are:

  • For both: Depression, negative reciprocal [behavior], stress, parental divorce, couple negative behavior, and positive reciprocity.
  • For women: Receiving welfare, unhappy childhood, premarital cohabitation, openness, parental divorce, premarital pregnancy, and neuroticism.
  • For men: extraversion, unhappy childhood, (lack of) employment, neuroticism, and parental divorce.

In general, it looks like a list of things the Bible says to avoid, barring a few.

Interesting how parental divorce more negatively affects men than women, but it affects men more so. This is also why vetting for background and character is important.

It’s interesting that lots of the indicators on headship-submission, masculinity, roles of the husband and wife, and sexual frequency all come out to the 40-50% range which actually represents the approximate amount of divorces. It’s almost as if the One who inspired the Scriptures who was also the author of marriage knew what He was talking about.

Even the “secular” marriages tend to follow the natural law that was created by God.

Other statistics

I’m some others from Kinsey’s FAQ.

Median number of opposite-sex partners in lifetime among U.S. men and women aged 25-44 years of age is 6.6 for men and 4.3 for women. (National Center for Health Statistics, 2015)

Men lie by overinflating. Women lie by underinflating. Since it a man and a woman for every sexual encounter, the true rate is somewhere between them.

Percentage of men and women aged 15-44 years of age who have had 15 or more opposite-sex sexual partners in their lifetime is 21.8% for men, and 10.6% for women. (National Center for Health Statistics, 2015)

20% rule anyone? Although, we can’t tell if said men were overinflating. I would be interested to see the full stats on partner breakdown.

Over 50% of respondents ages 18-24 indicated that their most recent sexual partner was a casual or dating partner. For all other age groups, the majority of study participants indicated that their most recent sexual partner was a relationship partner. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010).

Hookup culture is real. For every relationship you see, there are as many hookups.

Men and women both were likely to report sexual satisfaction if they also reported frequent kissing and cuddling, sexual caressing by the partner, higher sexual functioning, and if they had sex more frequently. On the other hand, for men, having had more sex partners in their lifetime was a predictor of less sexual satisfaction.

Men become jaded to sex too. The so-called ‘player burnout.’

[KI] Frequent kissing or cuddling predicted happiness in the relationship for men, but not for women. Both men and women reported more happiness the longer they had been together.

Surprise, men are the real romantics.

In any case, there’s lots of conclusions to be had here, and they all align with the Scriptures.

  • Frigidity in marriage is a sin. Have lots of sex.
  • Husband led marriages are more successful.
  • Men are providers and masculine. Women ages and age at marriage are important and value of men’s provision. Education may correlate with better self control and long term planning in women.
  • Positive behavior and attitudes are important. (Rather, godly attitudes and behavior).
  • Vet for divorce risk via factors such as depression, negative reciprocal [behavior], stress, parental divorce, couple negative behavior, positive reciprocity. For women: receiving welfare, unhappy childhood, premarital cohabitation, openness, parental divorce, premarital pregnancy, and neuroticism. For men: extraversion, unhappy childhood, (lack of) employment, neuroticism, and parental divorce.
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19 Responses to Sexless marriage and other relationship statistics

  1. shredifier says:

    Another spot on and informative topic
    I know I’ll probably get some flak for saying this but this is why I believe in polygamy, and I’m saying that even as a strong believer in Christ
    Once a man has 2 or more wives it’s IMPOSSIBLE for his wife to manipulate him with his need for sex……if one of the wives threaten her husband that he’s getting no pu**y he can just turn around and say “that’s ok dear I’m choosing Andrea tonight”
    I am absolutely committed to this viewpoint. ….its only when a wife realizes she can no longer manipulate her husband by refusal of her body that we will start to see happy marriages again
    My heart grieves for all the men out there whose selfish wives have deprived their husbands of a happy and fulfilling sex life and believe you me this is just as common in Christian marriages as in non Christian marriages
    We should have heeded God’s advice and realize that polygamy is in man’s best interest and in fact was to be expected and was the normal thing to do

  2. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    There was a recent study in Japan that reported in the high forties percent range. That is a country where all marriage is reputed to be sexless. We may seeing underreporting of sexlessness in marriage on a worldwide scale. I can see why, to both sexes, it is embarrassing.
    Found a link:
    https://www.rt.com/news/377342-sexless-japanese-marriages-study/
    While Japan is not Christian, they do have strong mores about sex outside of marriage.

  3. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    When one considers that the risk factors of a sexless marriage are catastrophic, one might presume that the church would be staunchly opposed to withholding affection. It boggles the mind that the church not only avoids the subject of with holding but teaches and supports it, when it is a wife doing the withholding. Even more outrageous is that the church will in most cases blame the husband for a wife’s frigidity and miserliness toward sex. But wait, it gets even more shameful is that the church is in all actuality promoting sexlessness by teaching female rebellion.

    The same “our bodies our selves” tenant of feminism that is used for abortion is taught by the church. A simple question will flush out the feminist imperative. Simply ask where the Bible speaks against marital rape. That question while not the most important is quite revealing as it exposes the value system. When Al Mohler is teaching to a whole seminary that husbands must earn the marriage bed, you can be assured that marriages are going to be sexless.

    The shame of it is, churches teach women how to threaten divorce much more than they teach how to love her husband and be submissive to him, lest the Word of God be blasphemed. The whole church culture is reflected in the movie “Fireproof”. A wife is taught to have affairs and threaten divorce to get her husband to dare to love her and give her what she wants. If the man sufficiently buys her love she will be happy to put out, but only if he is the highest bidder. In the movie if Dr. Dreamy had forked over the dough for the wheel chair he would have fulfilled Al Mohler’s requirement and earned the marriage bed. Of course the church is far more concerned about overbearing husbands than women’s sexual indiscretions because they assign the cause of a wife’s whoredom as the result of husband who does not pony up enough in the “love dare” grovelling.

    Frigid is not just a condition, it is taught and supported by the church. The church for all her wailing about becoming culturally irrelevant is actually quite relevant, she is greasing the slicks for the destruction of marriage and creating a matriarchal divorce culture.

  4. shredifier says:

    Once again your insightful comments prove to be spot on and so accurate with the current state of affairs in “marriages” today…..I’ve long since given up expecting the church to address the issue of sexlessness in marriage let alone for the church to care, except for its pathetic justification of the status quo and defending the feminist narrative
    It literally is not safe as a man to get married to a modern western woman hence the modern day MGTOW movement

  5. Lost Patrol says:

    @Jonadab-the-Rechabite

    Well said.

    Exalt women, admonish men. It has become dogma.

  6. thedeti says:

    Deep Strength:

    Question: Maybe I’m just not reading this correctly. I am certain I don’t understand a couple of things.

    Under the longitudinal research section and the conclusions section, you have stated a number of things to vet for which are negative indicators for marital success.

    For couples it is negative reciprocal [behavior], positive reciprocity, and couples negative behavior.

    For “Negative reciprocal behavior, do you mean that the relationship is one sided, with one person giving more than the other? For positive reciprocity, are you talking about, again, one person giving or taking more than the other, where there is lopsided effort in the relationship?

    For couples negative behavior, are you talking here about couples who don’t get along with each other? Couples who don’t have much in common? Or just a dysfunctional relationship dynamic which doesn’t work?

    I think these are social science research terms I’m unfamiliar with.

  7. The problem with this subject lies with two words. First, the word “marriage” and second, the word “divorce”.

    First, consider one fact very carefully. Adultery is a death-penalty offense in the Bible. Adultery, contrary to modern belief, is the crime of a married woman having sex with a man who is not her husband. Period. That is what the Bible says, nothing more, nothing less. If you are going to kill someone for committing this crime, what is the very first thing that must be established? The fact the woman is married. So, here’s the question: when does marriage begin?

    You have two choices in this. You can go full-blown churchian and say that it occurs with a ceremony in front of witnesses, by consent… or you can go with what the Bible says. The Bible says that marriage occurs when the virgin is penetrated by the man.

    I refer you to Genesis 2:24, right at the beginning, where the authority was given to the man. “For this cause a man…” Genesis 2:24 is a grant of authority, given to the man. Not to the community, to the families, to the state or to the church. To the individual MAN. If one takes Genesis 2:24 in light of Genesis 1, Leviticus 21, Numbers 30, Matthew 19, 1st Corinthians 6 and Ephesians 5, the meaning is as follows:

    In order to be fruitful and multiply, a man shall go out from under the authority of his father and mother to begin his own family, of which he shall be the head. He shall have sexual intercourse with his (virgin) wife and the Lord God shall make the two become “one flesh” in a spiritual joining that is a great mystery, the same as becoming a part of the body of Christ.

    How do we know this? Fortunately, the Bible is self-interpreting. In Genesis 2:24 the entire verse devolves to the meaning of the Hebrew word “dabaq” which is most commonly translated as the word “cleave” or “join.” You have been told that *this* is where the ceremony of commitment is made, which is followed by sex,(becoming one flesh). That is completely wrong and does not agree with the rest of Scripture. Jesus quoted Genesis 2:4 in Matthew 19 and the Hebrew word “dabaq” was translated as the Greek word “kollao”. The Apostle Paul used the same word, in the same context of Genesis 2:24 (quoting half the verse) in 1st Corinthians 6:16. The word means sexual intercourse.

    In Matthew 19, Jesus said “they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” In Ephesians 5 Paul compared the becoming one flesh in marriage with the becoming one body in Christ, both of which are spiritual joinings, both of which are a great mystery. The third part of Genesis 2;24 (shall become one flesh) speaks of a spiritual joining of the two that God performs. It is NOT the act of having sex, it occurs as a result of having sex with the virgin.

    A=B and B=C. Therefore A=C. “Dabaq” as used in Genesis 2;24 means the exact same thing as “Kollao” in 1st Corinthians 6:16 and there is no way around that. This means that when the virgin has sex with a man she is married to that man whether she knew it or not, whether she agreed to be married or not. A virgin does not have agency and she can be married against her will without her consent. This is proven by the fact that in Exodus 21 a woman could be sold by her father to be the wife (concubine) of a man whether she agreed or not. In Deuteronomy 21, we see that a woman captured in battle can become the wife of a man whether she agrees or not when he has sex with her. In Deuteronomy 22 we see that the virgin not betrothed who is raped (and it is discovered) is married to the man who raped her.

    All women are virgins when they marry.

    So, the question arises… does having a wedding ceremony with a married woman mean that one is now married to her? No. It is a fraud. One cannot “marry” a woman who is already married, one can only institutionalize the adultery. So… look around your church and ask yourself: in how many of those couples did the man get her virginity? The answer is that in probably 85% or more of the couples, they are living in adultery.

    Oh… God provided a way out in this… The father can annul that marriage his daughter entered into without her knowledge or his knowledge, in most cases.

    Now, having said that, when a man and woman who were never married at all do a so-called “divorce”… if they were not married then how can they divorce? The answer is they can’t. The woman is STILL married to her husband she doesn’t even know about. Because God is not mocked. He made the rules for marriage and He really doesn’t care what some little state court judge has to say or what the opinions of some preacher. His Word endures forever.

    All women are either virgins, married, widowed, divorced or in some cases not virgins but never married (because of the decision of their father). Given the fact that no-one knows what the Bible actually says about marriage, the odds of meeting a “single” woman who is not a virgin are approaching infinity. In other word, if she is not a virgin, you have to work with her father to get her un-married before you have sex with her, otherwise you commit adultery.

  8. shredifier says:

    Less than 0.5% of all women alive today are virgins so good luck in finding a “wife” that meets that criteria. …also unfortunately we live in the west where the idea that a woman is under her FATHER’S authority until she finds a mate is almost unheard of, let alone needing her father’s permission to marry
    Other than that you’re spot on with your analysis. …I still laugh my head off at all the “Christians” and the church saying that you’re only married if you have a wedding ceremony or a marriage certificate 😂, on the contrary sex=marriage, they just need to get over themselves and stop promoting their state sanctioned bs because it has no biblical support

  9. @ thedeti

    I assume “negative reciprocal behavior” is doing negative things back to your spouse.

    I’m not quite sure why “positive reciprocal behavior” is the worst as that doesn’t seem right.

    I’m not quite sure what those terms mean specifically. I was having trouble figuring out what a few of those meant myself. I did link the paper in the post though if you want to try to figure it out.

  10. @ AT

    We’re not going to debate that here.

  11. @DS

    Just to be clear, what is the “that” which will not be debated here?

  12. @ AT

    The definition of marriage and the definition of divorce.

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  14. Bart says:

    I had to laugh about the sex frequency statistics. A lot of wives exaggerate the frequency of sex in their marriages.

    A couple years ago my wife’s medical doctor (woman in late 50s) asked her about the frequency of our sexual relations. My wife estimated that we do it once a week. Her doctor strongly recommended increasing frequency to twice a week.

    My wife told me this, and I laughed. I told her that we really do it about once a month. 12-15 times a year is the truth. YES, I KNOW EXACTLY HOW OFTEN WE HAVE SEX! We usually do it once around ovulation time (or maybe two days in a row). Throw in a pity or guilt screw once in a while, and we also miss a few ovulation times for whatever reason. We end up with about 12-15 times a year

    It sucks. At least my wife is a good cook, has a generally submissive, respectful, and pleasant personality. She is a good friend and life partner apart from the sex thing. Also, she is chaste and modest. She also doesn’t use sex as a weapon. She just isn’t that interested in it.

    I’m working on improving my SMV. Hopefully that will cause her to desire me more.

    Otherwise, I may have to move to Africa and take a second wife. I’m only halfway joking. I will not break faith with my wife by divorcing her, but am firmly persuaded that the Bible regards polygamy as marriage (and not adultery or sexual immorality).

    Not sure, but things can’t keep going the way they have.

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  16. Samuel Culpepper says:

    Yeah, its disturbing to think everything you thought and were taught about marriage was wrong! But, sticking our collectives heads in the sand does not change God’s word and the fact that we will all be judge according to it, regardless of what your parents,pastors or peers may have told you. The word is readily available for most men to read for themselves, if they care to.

    This is why I do not read “christian” self-books, novels, etc., they just plant seeds that may or may not have a basis in scripture. I am a strong adherent to sola scriptura.

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  18. @ AT

    It’s not that the definition of marriage and divorce is not discussed on this blog. We were not discussing it in this specific post because it’s not on topic. You may post about it on any such appropriate post, many of which I’ve had in the past.

    I’m amused that you called me churchian on your blog because of it though.

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