Most sexual research focuses on the habits of individuals (as did mine). However, more than half of Americans stay in their first marriages, and what holds them together is well worth knowing–and rather surprising, according to a large study of long-term couples (together an average of 25 years) in five countries, conducted by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University.
Many components of long marriages are ones you’d expect. However, physical tenderness, such as cuddling and caressing, turned out to be important to men (that is, in the analysis predicted happiness), but not to women. Both men and women were happier the longer their relationship has lasted. But more men than women said they were happy in their relationship.
The most interesting finding was that women showed lower sexual satisfaction than men earlier in their relationship, and greater satisfaction later (after fifteen years).
The study does not explain why. It could be the result of a change in expectations, or the departure of the children–or because women who found their sexual situations intolerable left their partners. But for some reason, women in long-term relationships are more likely than men to end up with a sex life that pleases them.