Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor



Little is known about how marital sexual interaction influences eventual marital disruption, despite research in various disciplines examining the sex lives of the married. This relatively unexplored area compels sociological inquiry, since most Americans will marry, yet about 44 percent of all marriages are expected to end in divorce. Surprisingly, no one has posed the question: Does frequent, satisfying, and agreeable marital sexual interaction help to sustain a marriage? Further, do these indicators work separately or together to influence marital disruption? With panel data from the Marriage Matters Panel Survey of Newlywed Couples, 1998 - 2004, I utilize these three indicators (frequency, satisfaction, and agreement) to assess this question, as well as how the indicators of marital sexuality influence each other. The results provide evidence that the influence of marital sexuality on marital disruption is limited. However, interesting gender nuances appear and indicate that husband's satisfaction with physical intimacy early in marriage has a consistent positive effect on whether or not the couple will experience a marital disruption.




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