Young Couple Celebrating Wedding With Party In Backyard (Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock)

(Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock)

Rocking and knocking boots and hooking up before you commit to a partner at the altar could increase your chance of divorcing. A University of Utah professor recently conducted a study that researched the link between premarital sex and divorce.

Nicholas H. Wolfinger, professor of Family and Consumer Studies, studied statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey of Family Growth going back as far as the 1970s.

Wolfinger relies on data from the three most recent waves of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) collected in 2002, 2006-2010, and 2011-2013. For women marrying since the start of the new millennium:

  • Women with 10 or more partners were the most likely to divorce, but this only became true in recent years;
  • Women with 3-9 partners were less likely to divorce than women with 2 partners; and,
  • Women with 0-1 partners were the least likely to divorce.

Since the ’70s, women are engaging in more non-marital sex and the rate of divorce has increased simultaneously.

“Earlier research found that having multiple sex partners prior to marriage could lead to less happy marriages, and often increased the odds of divorce,” he writes.

But sexual attitudes and behaviors continue to change in America, and some of the strongest predictors of divorce in years gone by no longer matter as much as they once did.”

It won’t be surprising to most readers that people with more premarital sex partners have higher divorce rates, broadly speaking.”

That said, this research brief paints a fairly complicated picture of the association between sex and marital stability that ultimately raises more questions than it answers.”

He also found that women who marry as virgins are far more likely than other women to attend church at least once a week. Subsequently, they have lower rates of divorce.

Wolfinger coauthored Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Children, and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos with W. Bradford Wilcox (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Yvette Caslin

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