Researchers didn’t rule out an association between attending religious services together and being sexually satisfied. “It may be that religious worship service attendance situates individuals within a context where mutual exclusivity is more valued, and perhaps even socially enforced, which may then enhance participants’ sexual satisfaction.”
Study Debunks Myths About Religion and Sex Life
Researchers say their findings contradict the “common social narrative” that a couple’s sex life suffers if religion is a significant factor in their marriage. The study also disproves the myths that “religious couples are asexual, that religious couples are going to have lower sexual satisfaction or in some ways impaired sexual relationships compared to nonreligious couples,” says Willoughby.
To gauge their religiosity, study participants were asked how much they agreed with the statement “God is at the center of our marriage.” They also answered the question “How often do you pray or do religious activities with your spouse at home besides grace at meals?” The data comes from the Survey of Marital Generosity, which is almost a decade old, but researchers say the results are still valid.
The co-authors do admit, however, that religion, marriage, relationships and sexual satisfaction all are complex issues. Cause-and-effect associations can’t always be pinpointed; for example, a couple who’s “less sexually satisfied may also be less willing to engage in activities, including religious activities, together,” the study notes.
Sexual satisfaction, in particular, “has a lot of variables that go into it,” Dew says. “We’re not saying religiosity is end-all, be-all for sexual satisfaction. But for married couples, it’s at least part of the story.”