Hey, If It Worked for Woody Allen ...

Neurotic newlyweds need to have more sex to be satisfied with their relationships

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Neurotic newlyweds may be too busy obsessing over and analyzing their new marriage to enjoy their commitment, but a new study suggests they should just hit the sheets and stop thinking about it so much.

According to a study in the current issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science, neurotic people can find just as much marital satisfaction in their newly wedded status as their less neurotic counterparts.

In general, individuals who score highly in neuroticism (loosely defined as the tendency to experience negative emotion and irritate easily, experience mood shifts often and worry frequently) are less satisfied with romantic relationships. They are also more likely to divorce.

"High levels of neuroticism are more strongly associated with bad marital outcomes than any other personality factor," said Michelle Russell and James McNulty of the University of Tennessee, authors of the study.

As a robust sex life appears to make married people happier (sexual interactions improve the day's mood, according to past research), McNulty and Russell wanted to know if sexual bliss could override the nagging, gnawing pull of neuroses. The researches followed 72 newlywed couples over the first four years of their marriage with both spouses reporting separately and privately on their marital satisfaction.

Couples reported having sex about once a week during the first six months of marriage and by the fourth year of marriage, they had sex about 3 times a month. For spouses with high levels of neuroticism, frequent sexual intercourse improved their marital satisfaction, however; that is, they had enough sex to balance the happiness deficit neurotic spouses frequently report.

"Frequent sex is one way that some neurotic people are able to maintain satisfying relationships," the authors wrote.

Couples were considered satisfied when they agreed to the following statements: "My spouse and I have a good marriage" and "My relationship with my partner makes me happy."

In couples that did not report a high level of neuroticism, the amount of sex the couple had did not appear to weigh on overall marital satisfaction. Some satisfied couples reported lots of sex while others engaged in sexual activity less often and also reported a high degree of marital satisfaction. For neurotic couples, however, sex -- and lots of it -- seemed to be the secret to mutually satisfying relationships.

According to Psychology Today, neurotics are more prone to depression, anxiety, self-consciousness and hypochondria, among other emotional stumbling blocks.

Just think: Woody Allen and Diane Keaton could have made a go of it in "Annie Hall" if they had just stop thinking and complaining so much and gotten down to business.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 9, 2010
Last Updated:
December 9, 2010