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

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Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. Aging also occurs in tandem with a decline in physical functioning and health, sense of control, and optimism, and an increase in passive emotions, such as depression and social isolation.

  2. In ancillary models, we included a difference score between the partners’ ages. The difference score variable approached significance (p = .055) when included in the model with the gender X marital duration interaction. We, however, saw no meaningful changes in our key analyses.

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Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the support of the University of Texas Population Research Center. We thank the Editor and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.

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Correspondence to Samuel Stroope.

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Stroope, S., McFarland, M.J. & Uecker, J.E. Marital Characteristics and the Sexual Relationships of U.S. Older Adults: An Analysis of National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project Data. Arch Sex Behav 44, 233–247 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-014-0379-y

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