Whether for married couples or people merely cohabiting, one of the activities that seem central to both is sex. However, they would be doing it for different reasons. While it is more of an obligation in marriage, it seems more of pleasure for cohabiting couples.
It is equally worthy of note that in the past, cohabitation, which is an arrangement where two people who are not married live together, used to be uncommon.
But in recent times, in spite of the fact that it is frowned upon by different religions, findings have shown that in several instances, people who are ripe for marriage now spend some time cohabiting before eventually getting married. This was also the position of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the United States.
While some keep it at that level for as long as they want, some end up in marriage.
On a cursory look, why do people opt for cohabitation? According to a clinical psychologist, Dr. Helen Nightingale, women tend to consent to living together because they hope it will lead to marriage, while they still want a man to propose and put a ring on their finger.
On the other hand, she pointed out that men tend to consider cohabitation as a way to put off commitment perhaps because they are not yet certain they want that commitment or they already derive the benefits they should get in marriage from the union, thinking there is not more to hope for.
But according to studies, people who are not married but cohabit tend to have more sex than people who are married. From reports, married couples were found to have sex on an average of twice to three times weekly. But cohabiting couples were found to have it more frequently. Why?
A professor of Psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University, US, Madeleine Fugere, said in her piece on Psychology Today, that some of the responsibilities that come with marriage tend to interfere with the ability of married couples to have sex. She added that those responsibilities could also limit their availability. Some of these responsibilities could include care for a partner, child care, financial problem, issues with in-laws and family demands, most of which are absent in cohabitation arrangements.
She said, “Previous research works have also suggested that married individuals spend less time having sex because they devote more time to other activities, including child care. Married individuals are more likely than cohabitating counterparts to have children, and those children can definitely interfere with plans for a passionate evening. Further, due to the demands of child care, individuals with children may experience increased fatigue and therefore decreased interest in sex.
“Similar to the demands of children, the demads of a career may also interfere with sexual desire.”
Also, given that there is not much commitment in the relationship between cohabiting couples, she also found that such persons tend to cheat on their lovers; after all, there is no binding force.
She added, “The two factors that appear to most strongly influence sexual frequency are age and marital duration. Married couples tend to be older than cohabitating peers, and with age comes changes in hormone levels and an increased likelihood of illness or sexual dysfunction. Further, marriages tend to last longer than cohabitating relationships.”
Speaking on the differing frequency, a psychologist, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye, said given that both parties may not see the relationship as permanent, the overall essence tend to be to have fun.
He said, “It’s a form of loose relationship; both of them are free to go at anytime, since it does not have a legal binding, which gives a feeling that it’s just about having fun together.
“The point is that usually, there are no children or in-laws either of them feels obliged to take care of, and there is no pressure from anywhere. So, they are more likely to have more fun and more sex is part of it, especially knowing that they could replace each other at anytime.
“But when people are bound together by legal vows or a ring, even though there is a form of relaxation that allows for the wife or the husband to dress the way they want in the home or do whatever they like in the house, there are other things that compete for their attention and sex would not be the first item on their list. Such demands are children, paying fees and others.”
But in spite of these, Fugere said married couples who are desirous of having more frequent sex should schedule time for intimacy just as they would for other important activities, set aside some “kid-free” time for just both of them, work on their marital satisfaction which tends to lead to more sex, talk to their spouse over sexual needs and focus on the quality of the sex and not the quantity.
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