Ellen Langer

The Link Between Sex and Divorce? ·


Sex is a wonderful activity. So is having a romantic candlelit dinner. In the New York Times today there is an article about sex and marriage—or more specifically, sexless marriages. Research by Denise Connelly from Georgia State University, found that sexless marriages are more likely to end in divorce. Like all research, these results should be understood as probabilistic and not absolute.

People vary in their desire for sex. If little or no desire is shared by both partners and all else is in place (they are loving and respectful towards each other, they share much joy together, etc.) the absence of sex may mean nothing more than it would mean if they didn’t have breakfast together or that romantic dinner. People should not need experts nor research to know if their marriages are good. As a culture, I think we rely too much on experts who can only speak to what may be normatively true. Only we know what is true for us.

If we are content, we are content. It would be a shame for experts to lead any to worry if worry did not previously exist. Moreover, surely the finding is mainly a statistical one. Just as the research that shows that there are more car accidents close to home doesn’t mean we are driving more carelessly when we get close to home. Rather, it may mean only that we’re near our homes more than any other location.

When people are thinking about getting divorced they probably have stopped making love. That doesn’t mean that if we stop making love we’ll end up divorced.