The Longest Lasting Couples Are Great At Doing Two Very Specific Things, According To Research

Photo: Diego Zarulli / Shutterstock
playful couple on bed

It's not earth-shattering news that sex is an essential part of a long-term relationship. Sex connects you to your partner and helps you have a deeper understanding of them. 

But how do you keep the sexual part of your relationship exciting and satisfying after you've been with your partner for a number of years, and how important is having good sex to the longevity of your relationship?

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that the happiest couples not only have a lot of sex, but they talk about it, too.

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The researchers figured out that men and women who are sexually satisfied are also happier in their relationships.

Researchers at Chapman University, California State University, Sonoma State University, and the Kinsey Institute, posted a survey in 2006 and then analyzed the answers of almost 39,000 married or heterosexual couples who lived together, all of whom had been together for at least three years. The average age was 40 for women and 46 for men. 

Participants were asked to rate their current sexual satisfaction on a scale of one to seven. In addition, they were asked to rate their sexual satisfaction in the first six months of their relationship.

A huge majority of respondents remembered being satisfied in the first six months of their relationship, but only about half (43 percent of men and 55 percent of women) said they were currently satisfied.

The rest reported feeling neutral (16 percent of men and 18 percent of women) or dissatisfied (41 percent of men and 27 percent of women).

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"Sexual satisfaction and maintenance of passion were higher among people who had sex more frequently, received more oral sex, had more consistent orgasms, incorporated more variety of sex acts, took the time to set a mood, and practiced effective sexual communication," said David Frederick, Ph.D., lead author of the study said.

"Almost half of the satisfied and dissatisfied couples read sexual self-help books and magazine articles, but what set sexually satisfied couples apart was that they actually tried some of the ideas."

The study found that sexually satisfied men and women engaged in more intimate behaviors such as cuddling, gentle and deep kissing, and laughing together during sex, and included more variety in their sex lives, like experimenting with different positions and acting out fantasies.

Also, couples who were content with their sex lives had partners that said, "I love you" during sex and sent a suggestive or teasing text earlier in the day.

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Satisfied couples were also more likely to describe their sexual encounters with each other with terms like, "loving, tender, and passionate." They also said that their emotional closeness during sex either remained the same or had increased, compared to the first six months of their relationship.

"We looked at common romantic and sexual behaviors that are rarely assessed in the literature but are likely important contributors to sexual satisfaction," Dr. Frederick said. "For example, while sexual variety is deemed important for sexual satisfaction, evidence on the effectiveness of specific forms of variety — such as showering together or wearing lingerie or use of sex toys — is lacking."

Keeping things fresh and being open to trying different sexual techniques, talking about what you want, and having more sex and orgasms are vital for long-term sexual satisfaction.

And a sexually satisfied partner is a happy partner.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and frequent contributor to YourTango. She's had articles featured in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Woman's Day, among many others.