Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 1609–1620 | Cite as

Individual and Partner Correlates of Sexual Satisfaction and Relationship Happiness in Midlife Couples: Dyadic Analysis of the International Survey of Relationships

  • William A. FisherEmail author
  • Kelly L. Donahue
  • J. Scott Long
  • Julia R. Heiman
  • Raymond C. Rosen
  • Michael S. Sand
Original Paper


The current research reports a dyadic analysis of sexual satisfaction, relationship happiness, and correlates of these couple outcomes in a large multinational dataset consisting of 1,009 midlife heterosexual couples (2,018 individuals) recruited in Japan, Brazil, Germany, Spain, and the United States (Heiman et al., 2011). Actor-Partner Interdependence Models (Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006) identified correlates of sexual satisfaction that included individuals’ reports of good health; frequent kissing, cuddling, and caressing; frequent recent sexual activity; attaching importance to one’s own and one’s partner’s orgasm; better sexual functioning; and greater relationship happiness. Even after controlling for individual-level effects, partners’ reports of good health; frequent kissing, cuddling, and caressing; frequent recent sexual activity; attaching importance to one’s own and one’s partner’s orgasm; better sexual functioning; and greater relationship happiness contributed significantly to predicting and understanding individuals’ sexual satisfaction. Correlates of relationship happiness included individuals’ reports of good health; frequent kissing, cuddling, and caressing; frequent recent sexual activity; attaching importance to one’s own and one’s partner’s orgasm; better sexual functioning; and greater sexual satisfaction, and once again, even after controlling for individual-level effects, partners’ reports of each of these correlates contributed significantly to predicting and understanding individuals’ relationship happiness. Interactions of individual and partner effects with participant gender are also reported. Current results demonstrate empirically that the partner “matters” to an individual’s sexual satisfaction and relationship happiness and indicate that a comprehensive understanding of factors contributing to these couple outcomes requires a couple-level research strategy. Partner effects, even when controlling for individual effects, were consistently observed, and explanation of sexual satisfaction and relationship happiness always depended on identifying and understanding mutual and concurrent individual and partner influences.


Sexual satisfaction Relationship happiness Dyadic analysis 



This study was supported by an independent investigator initiated grant from Bayer-Schering Inc (J. R. Heiman, PI). The design, conceptualization, analysis, and interpretation of results are the sole product of the co-authors and have not been subject to editorial influence of Bayer-Schering. The authors wish to acknowledge the helpful suggestions of Lorne Campbell regarding this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • William A. Fisher
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kelly L. Donahue
    • 2
  • J. Scott Long
    • 3
  • Julia R. Heiman
    • 4
  • Raymond C. Rosen
    • 5
  • Michael S. Sand
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Pediatrics, Section of Adolescent MedicineIndiana University School of MedicineIndianapolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  4. 4.Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and ReproductionIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  5. 5.New England Research InstitutesWatertownUSA

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