8/10/2012 11:10 AM
Need a quick workaround to decide how healthy your marriage is? In 1971, a group of researchers came up with a simple linear model that expressed a marriage’s chances of success.
The study’s authors asked married study participants to keep track of how often they had sex, how often they fought, and to rate their level of marital satisfaction. In the study, sexual intercourse was defined as “genital union with or without orgasm.” (BTW, I’m not including that detail because it’s important. I’m including it because I’m terribly immature and the wording made me giggle.)
Among the thirty couples who considered their marriages happy, only two argued more than they had sex. The twelve couples who were unhappy all fought more often than they slept together. One couple declined to say whether they were happy; however, they reported that their sex lives were less active than their level of conflict, so, I think that one’s easy enough to put together.
Armed with their data, researchers created a linear equation where A = sex and B = fights. As long as A – B was equal to or greater than zero (A - B ≥ 0), couples were usually at least somewhat satisfied. The study’s authors observed, “The linear prediction is the quintessence of simplicity: subtract the rate of arguments from the rate of sexual intercourse. A positive difference predicts happiness, a negative one unhappiness.”
TL;DR for the math impaired: Just make sure you’re screwing more than you’re fighting, and you are probably good.