Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 233-247

First online:

Marital Characteristics and the Sexual Relationships of U.S. Older Adults: An Analysis of National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project Data

  • Samuel StroopeAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Louisiana State University Email author 
  • , Michael J. McFarlandAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and Center for Demography and Population Health, Florida State University
  • , Jeremy E. UeckerAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Baylor University

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We tested several hypotheses regarding the relationship between marital characteristics and sexual outcomes among 1,656 married adults ages 57–85 years from the 2005–2006 National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. Results showed that individuals in their first marriage had more frequent sex than remarried individuals; marital duration had a curvilinear (U-shaped) relationship with frequency of sex; and a linear relationship between marital duration and frequency of sex varied by gender such that men had more frequent sex than women in younger marriages. We speculate that relationship permanency may drive the greater sexual activity in first marriages and sicker men in younger marriages may drive frequency of sex for women in younger marriages.


Aging Sexual activity Duration of marriage Marital history Gender