Maintaining a healthy sex life could make a difference in how couples cope with illness

Among older couples, physical illnesses can strain a marriage, but maintaining a healthy sex life could make a difference in how happily both partners cope, a new study suggests.

Researchers have long known the illnesses that come with age are linked to poorer marriage quality, but exactly why has not been clear. According to the new analysis, sexual intimacy is the link that keeps partners positive about their marriages in the face of difficult times, and a lack of sex makes matters worse.

The results “suggest that it may be important to stay sexually connected to protect” the quality of a marriage, lead author Adena Galinsky told Reuters Health.

Galinsky is a research affiliate of the University of Chicago’s Center on Demography and Economics of Aging in Illinois.

After analyzing data from 732 “couple units,” encompassing 1,464 individuals, most of whom were between 65 and 74 years old, Galinsky and a colleague found that sexual frequency was tied to relationship quality.

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