Today's reason is slightly awkward: perhaps a bit on the TMI side, and unlike what I have written before not something I actively find attractive about my wife but instead a passively helpful historical truth.
A blogger named Dalrock has a few interesting posts about divorce statistics that helped me understand how much abstinence until marriage is important. He also links to three articles by a blogger I have not other otherwise read.
I'll summarize so you do not need to follow all those links: a marriage in which the wife is abstinent until marriage apparently has a decreased risk of divorce by at least 35% and perhaps as much as 60%.
(I cannot find any data about husband abstinence. Are we unimportant?)
This is huge! Let me compare it to other factors that lower risk of divorce and apply to my marriage (I do not know how much these are statistically independent):
- college-educated women have a well-established decreased risk of divorce by about 25%
- high-IQ women in the U. S. have an additional decreased risk of divorce by about 30% independent from educational level
- couples who wait at least seven months before having kids have a decreased risk of divorce by about 25%
- our income level correlates to a decreased risk of divorce by about 30%
- neither of us have been married before, which decreases risk of divorce by about 35%
- only one of us has divorced parents, which decreases risk of divorce by about 15%
If you know basic statistics you can combine all of these to estimate a statistical chance, back on our wedding day, that our marriage would end in divorce. It is quite low! Do not believe folks who say that modern marriage is always dreadfully risky.
More important to my wife and I was that God gave our marriage his approval back when my wife and I were engaged, so we felt quite safe getting married. Statistics do not compare to divine guidance!
Why might abstinence be the most significant single predictor of marriage stability? Hormones!
During sex, hormones cause emotional pair-bonding, similar to the pair-bonding of lovebirds and guinea pigs. But this effect fades away with multiple sex partners. A married couple who was not abstinent has less or none of this benefit.
Furthermore, the pair-bonding remains for those prior sex partners and often causes a bit of historical revisionism. That rude college person who was so amazing in bed one time might over time be remembered as so very attractive and able to give pleasure, with all faults ignored and a youthful physique frozen in time. Even if this somehow never interferes with marital intimacy, anecdotes abound about how it hinders marital communication. When a marriage is stressed, talking through the issues with your spouse takes difficult and sometimes unpleasant work. Much more easy and feel-good to lazily reminisce about old pair-bond people. Or maybe even find them on Facebook...
So now you know the kernel of Reason #10. My wife and I are overly fond of each other because our brains have been rewired by our body chemistries--what a great deal! And we have no other competing pair-bonds to distract us from being fond (and staying fond) of each other.
(Also, do not trust anyone that says young adults need to "discover themselves" sexually before marriage. Both statistics and biology prove them wrong.)
Tangent: All of the above statistical analysis focused on predicting divorce on the wedding day. Since this is probably the only blog post I will ever write about divorce statistics, the mathematician in my wants to be more complete and comment briefly on Dalrock's chart of reasons divorces happen, which describes the other side of the issue.
The biggest cause of divorce is "abuse", which sounds simple but is not. For example, during all of my grandparent's marriage my grandfather gave my grandmother discretionary money each month and otherwise did all the finances. My grandmother liked this: she could not make a bad decision about money! But some currently prominent academics and their surveys would now label such financial unequal roles as one kind of abuse. Overall, how they widen the definition of "abuse" means this category should really be relabeled as lack of respect. (After all, few people could physically or verablly abuse a spouse they respect, and lack of respect can be fatal to marriages even without actual abuse.)
UPDATE: This website has a long list of "abuse", much of which is mere disrespect. Not good for a marriage, but not true abuse.
Apparently I was onto something when I started this new theme by describing how my wife and I respect each other.
Also, I was surprised that "different lifestyles" was perhaps more significant than "cheating". I will refer back to this tomorrow.
UPDATE: Good heavens! According to this article, "68% of men say they married the best sex of their lives, compared to 45% of women who said the same." No wonder the divorce rate is high, and so many wives slowly turn off marital sex. This article collaborates.
UPDATE: How many men are abstinent until married? I find conflicting statistics, compounded by the usual problems with survey reliability. Try these two links as places to start if you are doing your own research.
UPDATE: More data on partner count and marriage stability, from the Heritage Foundation (so a bias alert).
Women with 0 non-marital sexual partners had a 80.47% chance of being in a stable marriage.UPDATE: Two more posts by Dalrock about divorce, showing statistically (for what that is worth) divorce is contagious and does not make people happy.
Women with 1 non-marital sexual partners had a 53.63% chance of being in a stable marriage.
Women with 2 non-marital sexual partners had a 43.65% chance of being in a stable marriage.
The trend continues but I won't keep typing...