Can more sex help neurotic couples be happier?
The latest research does seem to indicate that more frequent sex helps neurotic couples in their relationships! The Social Psychological and Personality Science Journal published an article in October, 2010 entitled "Frequent Sex Protects Intimates From the Negative Implications of Their Neuroticism". You can read the full study by clicking here, but I'm happy to spare you the tedious research data and summarize the article and the bottom line for you.
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First though, let's define the term "neurotic" as it's a little more specific than what we perhaps think of when considering America's "favorite" neurotic, Woody Allen. To be neurotic is simply a tendency to experience negative emotional states. A neurotic responds poorly to stress and will often have symptoms of anxiety, depression, guilt and anger. They will be more reactive and less emotionally stable.
So back to the study. Seventy-two newlywed couples were studied over four years and rated their level of marital satisfaction and frequency of sexual activity. Their level of neuroticism was also tested with a psychological instrument (The Big Five Personality Inventory - no, it wasn't developed at the sporting goods store!). All of this was measured each six months until the end of the four year study.
It was already pretty obvious that the more neurotic a couple, the less satisfied they would be in their relationship/marriage. That part is a "no brainer" to us all. However this study of seventy-two couples (ten marriages actually ended during the study) seems to indicate that frequent sex raises the "marital satisfaction" scores of the neurotic couples to the same level of satisfaction as the non-neurotic couples.
The couples in the study reported sexual intercourse once/week for the first six months of the study on average and three time/month frequency for the duration of the study. This seems to have helped to reduce the "happiness deficit" that neurotic couples report. The good news it that this "treatment" requires no medical intervention and has a much lower side effect profile then medication!
The already "happy" couples didn't report increased satisfaction connected to sexual frequency. However, there seems to be some solace "between the sheets" for the neurotics!
I would love to hear your comments and feedback (personal anecdotes are also welcome).
Thanks so much,
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Dr. Adam Sheck