Although sex is an important part of marriage, not everyone can always have good sex. In a recent study, researchers find that husbands’ and wives’ personality traits can influence the frequency and satisfaction of their sex life. The finding is published in Journal of Research in Personality.
The study involved 278 newlywed couples in the US. They were married fewer than 4 months. During the study, couples answered questions about their daily sexual behavior and satisfaction with sex via diary of 14 days.
The typical questions were like “Did you have sex with your partner today?” and “How satisfied were you with the sex you had with your partner today?”
Researchers tested each couple’s Big Five personality traits. The Big Five personality traits are built based on common language descriptors of personality. These descriptors are grouped using a statistical technique (factor analysis).
The 5 factors are openness to experience (e.g., I have excellent ideas), conscientiousness (e.g., I pay attention to details), extraversion (e.g., I start conversations), agreeableness (e.g., I have a soft heart), and neuroticism (e.g., I get upset easily).
The result showed that couples had sex on 811 out of 3493 dairy reports, i.e. 3-4 of the 14 days of the diary.
Wives’ agreeableness and openness was positively associated with the probability of sex in a particular day. That is, if the wife is agreeable and open-minded, the couple will have sex more frequently. In contrast, husbands’ personality traits were not related to sex probability.
In addition, husbands’ openness and neuroticism were negatively related to sex satisfaction, but their agreeableness was positively related to sex satisfaction. This means open-minded and sensitive husbands are hard to feel happy about their sex life, whereas soft-hearted husbands are easily to feel happy about sex.
In wives, neuroticism was negatively related to sex satisfaction, but openness and conscientiousness were positively related to sex satisfaction. That is, sensitive wives are less happy with their sex life, but open-minded and self-disciplined wives are happier about sex life.
Researchers suggest that in romantic relationships, men desire and initiate sex more often than women, and women have been labeled as the “gatekeepers” of sex. When the wife is agreeable and open-minded in interpersonal relationships, it is easier for the couple to sex frequently.
In addition, being upset or angry easily is related to low sex satisfaction. This is true in both men and women. Future research will study when openness in husbands and wives plays different roles in sex satisfaction.
Citation: Meltzer AL, McNulty JK. (2016). Who is having more and better sex? The Big Five as predictors of sex in marriage. Journal of Research in Personality, 63: 62-66. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2016.05.010
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