Sleeping Together Doesn't Hurt

Sex before marriage won't necessarily bring ruin to your relationship; nor does living with your partner before exchanging vows increase the risk of divorce. Jay Teachman, Ph.D., of Western Washington University in Washington, found that neither are predictors of divorce for women, as long the person they slept with was their future husband.

"Premarital sex and living with your [future] husband has become part of regular courtship," says Teachman. "People who are in these committed relationships are more comfortable with having sex and living together prior to marriage."

Teachman analyzed results from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, in which 10,847 women answered questions about their sexual history. The 18 percent of married women who did wait to have sex or cohabit had the lowest levels of divorce, while women who jumped the gun with their future husbands were no more likely to break off their relationship.

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However, those who had lived with more men did have a greater chance of divorce."People who are not as committed to marriage are more likely to engage in a variety of premarital relationships," explains Teachman. Still, he adds that living with or sleeping with others does not directly lead to a higher rate of divorce. Rather, it indicates how women think about relationships. “When a relationship is not as satisfying as a woman had hoped for, she is just more likely to end it,” he says.

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