Correlates of sexual satisfaction in marriage.
Abstract: Hypotheses concerning possible correlates of sexual satisfaction in marriage were tested using the replies of 797 married women and men of diverse ages to a 70-item mailed questionnaire that contained seven Likert-type sub-scales measuring different sexual and non-sexual variables. Multiple regression analysis, using sexual satisfaction as the dependent variable, yielded a five-variable model that accounted for a significant portion of the variation in sexual satisfaction (Adjusted R Squared = .602). The variable "overall satisfaction with marriage" had the highest correlation with sexual satisfaction (r=. 622), followed by "satisfaction with non-sexual aspects of the relationship" (r=.609), frequency of spouse/partner orgasm per sexual encounter (r=.529), frequency of sexual activity (r=.370), and "sexual uninhibitedness" (r=.230). None of three measures of religiosity made a significant contribution to explaining the variation on self-reported sexual satisfaction. Men and women did not differ in level of sexual satisfaction, and adding gender to the regression model did not increase the level of explained variation. The results indicate that sexual satisfaction in these married respondents could not be compartmentalized to their sexual interactions, but was strongly associated with non-sexual aspects of the overall marital relationship as well.
Subject: Satisfaction (Psychological aspects)
Marriage (Psychological aspects)
Religiousness (Influence)
Orgasm (Research)
Authors: Young, Michael
Luquis, Raffy
Denny, George
Young, Tamera
Pub Date: 06/22/1998
Publication: Name: The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality Publisher: SIECCAN, The Sex Information and Education Council of Canada Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 1998 SIECCAN, The Sex Information and Education Council of Canada ISSN: 1188-4517
Issue: Date: Summer, 1998 Source Volume: v7 Source Issue: n2
Accession Number: 21158931
Full Text: Key words: Sexual satisfaction Marital satisfaction Relationship satisfaction Religiosity Spouse-partner orgasm consistency

INTRODUCTION

A person's satisfaction with his/her marriage or primary relationship tends to be a pivotal factor in his/her overall happiness. Sexual satisfaction is an important aspect of marital satisfaction (Farley & Davis, 1980; Gebhard, 1966; Hurlbert, Apt, & Rabehl, 1993; Przybyla & Byrne, 1981). Given the high rate of divorce and the marital and sexual dissatisfaction experienced by many couples who do not divorce (Frank, Anderson & Rubenstein, 1979), a number of researchers have sought to identify the factors that have a positive or negative impact on sexual satisfaction among married persons.

Such studies have investigated the relationship of sexual satisfaction to physical aspects of sexual experience (e.g., orgasm consistency, frequency or timing of orgasm) (Darling, Davidson & Cox, 1991; Darling, Davidson, & Jennings, 1991; Waterman & Chiauzzi, 1982) and to psychological factors within individuals and couples (Farley & Davis, 1980). In addition, religiosity (Davidson, Darling, & Norton, 1995; Paxton & Turner, 1976), gender-role perception or adaptation (Jobes, 1986; Rosenzweig & Dailey, 1989), cultural variables (Ah Song, Bergen, & Schumm, 1995), and a host of other factors (Hatfield, Greenberger, Traupmann & Lambert, 1982; Hurlbert et al., 1993; Schiavi, Mandell & Schreiner-Engel, 1994) have been studied to determine their relationship, if any, to sexual satisfaction.

The broad goal of the present study was to test a number of hypotheses on the relationship between the self-reported sexual satisfaction of married women and men and selected sexual and non-sexual aspects of their marital relationships. This included an examination of the relationship of religiosity and religious belief to sexual behaviour and sexual satisfaction in marriage.

THE CONCEPT AND MEASUREMENT OF SEXUAL SATISFACTION

At first glance, the concept of sexual satisfaction would appear to be straightforward; a person either is or is not satisfied with his or her sexual relationship (Derogatis & Melisaratos, 1979). It quickly becomes apparent, however, that there are various degrees of and components to sexual satisfaction. People may be more satisfied with some aspects of their sexual lives than with others. How then does one define, conceptualize and measure sexual satisfaction? Renaud, Byers and Pan (1997) highlighted the difficulty that researchers have had in defining sexual satisfaction by pointing out that it has sometimes been conceptualized as the absence of dissatisfaction.

Lawrance and Byers (1995) described sexual satisfaction as "an affective response arising from one's subjective evaluation of the positive and negative dimensions associated with one's sexual relationship". The measurement of this "affective response" is not necessarily a simple task. Some researchers have attempted to measure overall sexual satisfaction using one or two questionnaire items. For example, Zhou (1993) measured sexual satisfaction by asking subjects a single question about their satisfaction with coitus. Several other researchers have sought to measure sexual satisfaction with one or two Likert-type items (Farley & Davis, 1980; Davidson & Hoffman, 1986; Ah Song et al., 1995), others have used single items to measure psychological and physiological components of satisfaction or have been unclear as to how they measured sexual satisfaction (Morokoff & Gillilland, 1993).

Renaud et al. (1997) noted that researchers have sometimes used orgasmic consistency as an index of sexual satisfaction. They acknowledged that there was a relationship between orgasmic consistency and sexual satisfaction, but also made clear that there was a conceptual difference between these two constructs. Other researchers have used various multi-item scales to measure sexual satisfaction (Derogatis & Melisaratos, 1979; Hudson, Harrison & Croscup, 1981; Lawrance & Byers, 1995; LoPiccolo & Steger, 1974). The use of such scales allows the researcher to consider various components or dimensions of a sexual relationship. This approach may provide a more accurate reflection of a person's overall satisfaction with his or her sexual relationship than would approaches that used only one or two items. The present study employed an 11-item scale to assess several dimensions of sexual satisfaction (e.g., pleasure, attraction, intensity, fulfilment) among currently married women and men. The themes and hypotheses under investigation are described below.

RELIGIOSITY AND SEXUAL SATISFACTION

Davidson et al. (1995) observed that "our societal views about sexuality continue to be dominated by the religious view that sexual desires are to be restrained and sexual pleasures to be avoided" (p. 235). We therefore ask here if and how sexual satisfaction is affected by the level of a person's religious commitment and/or by the person's "perception of how God views sexuality". Within the surprisingly limited research literature on this topic, Davidson et al.'s (1995) study of nurses found a significant effect of degree of religiosity (as measured by frequency of church attendance) on both age at initiation of sexual intercourse and attitudes toward masturbation. They also found a relationship between church attendance and "physiological" sexual satisfaction. Women who had not attended church services in the last year expressed the highest level of "physiological" sexual satisfaction, although no such effect was found for "psychological" sexual satisfaction.

Although well over half of the Davidson et al. (1995) respondents were currently married, their analysis did not include a breakdown of responses according to marital status. Since most religious denominations disapprove of sexual intercourse outside of marriage, one might expect to find an effect of marital status on the relationship between religiosity and sexual satisfaction. While we have seen some published (Paxton & Turner, 1976) and unpublished (Davidson & Moore, 1996) data on sexual satisfaction and church attendance among single, college undergraduates, we were unable to locate any previous research on the relationship between religiosity and sexual satisfaction in married subjects.

Researchers who have studied the effect of religion on sexual attitudes and behaviours have often used only a single item (frequency of church attendance) to measure religiosity. The concept of religiosity, however, goes beyond attendance at religious services and involves several dimensions, including: feeling and emotion, religious behaviour (which includes but is not limited to church attendance), beliefs, knowledge, and the degree to which religion influences one's every day life (Glock, 1962). The present study therefore used a multi-dimensional measure of religiosity to determine the possible relationship of religiosity to sexual satisfaction. To add a further dimension to this investigation, we developed a 6-item scale designed to measure respondents' "perception of God's view of sex".

RELATIONSHIP VARIABLES AND SEXUAL SATISFACTION

Several studies have shown a positive association between sexual satisfaction and closeness or quality of relationship (Newcomb & Bentler, 1983; Frank et al., 1979; Health, 1978). Others have shown that, for women, the closer the emotional relationship with one's partner, the greater the chance that the relationship will be described as sexually satisfying (Darling, Davidson & Cox, 1991; Rosenzweig & Dailey, 1989; Hurlbert, et al., 1993). In addition, both Lawrance and Byers (1995) and Oggins, Leber and Veroff (1993) have found that characteristics indicative of the quality of a relationship (e.g., intimacy, amount of physical affection, love and relationship satisfaction) are related to level of sexual satisfaction. The Interpersonal Exchange Model of Sexual Satisfaction proposed by Lawrance and Byers (1992; 1995) takes into account the rewards and costs that partners exchange in their sexual relationship, and the consequences of this exchange for sexual satisfaction. The model predicts that greater relationship satisfaction results in greater sexual satisfaction. Sprecher (1998) indicated that the social exchange framework, which is really a way of examining relationship satisfaction, is particularly relevant to the evaluation of sexual satisfaction.

In the present study, we used two measures of relationship quality to determine the relationship of this parameter to sexual satisfaction. To supplement a single item question on overall marital satisfaction, we developed a measure of relationship quality that addresses emotional intimacy, respect and companionship.

SEXUAL ACTIVITY, BEHAVIOURAL VARIABLES AND SEXUAL SATISFACTION

Much has also been made of the role of orgasm and the timing of orgasm in female sexual satisfaction. Waterman and Chiauzzi (1982) cited a number of studies suggesting that orgasm may play a minimal role in women's sexual satisfaction. Others have found orgasm to be an important factor in sexual satisfaction. For example, Darling, Davidson and Cox (1991) found timing of orgasm to be important to female sexual satisfaction in that women who generally experienced their first orgasm in a sexual encounter after their male partner reported less satisfaction than women who said they generally experienced their first orgasm in an encounter before or simultaneously with their male partner. Perlman and Abramson (1981) found that individuals who indicated the greatest sexual satisfaction had more orgasms than those who said they were dissatisfied sexually.

Darling, Davidson and Jennings (1991) found that multi-orgasmic women were more likely to be physiologically satisfied with sexual intercourse than single orgasmic women, but that "in general, sexual satisfaction was not overwhelmingly affected by whether or not a woman experiences multiple orgasms". These researchers did not include nonorgasmic women in their analysis. Other researchers have addressed the consistency with which one (or one's partner) achieved orgasm as a factor in sexual satisfaction (e.g., how frequently sexual activity results in orgasm). For example, Lief (1980) indicated the female orgasmic consistency was related to greater marital happiness. Hurlbert et al. (1993) also found that orgasmic consistency, but not frequency of orgasms per se, was predictive of female sexual satisfaction. Hurlbert (1993) also found that women who participated in orgasm consistency training reported a higher degree of sexual satisfaction at six-month follow-up than women participating in a standard group intervention.

Waterman and Chiauzzi (1982) found, for women, that sexual dissatisfaction (dissatisfaction with the current repertoire of sexual behaviours in which one is engaging) increased as the consistency of orgasms decreased. For men, however, there was not a significant difference in sexual dissatisfaction by orgasm consistency. The consistency with which one's partner reached orgasms was not significantly related to sexual dissatisfaction for men or women. Sexual pleasure (the average enjoyment of all sexual activities in which one engages) was not related to consistency of their own or their partner's orgasm for either men or women.

Zhou's (1993) survey in China found that frequency of coitus, pre-coital caressing, and frequency of wives' orgasms were all positively related to the sexual satisfaction of both husbands and wives. Bentler and Peeler (1979) also found that higher levels of sexual activity were related to increased sexual satisfaction, as did Hurlbert et al. (1993).

In the present study, we developed a single measure which reflects the consistency of orgasm for both the survey participant and the participant's spouse, something that previous researchers had not done. In addition, we measured frequency of participation in sexual activities, the type of sexual activity in which the survey participant and spouse engaged, and the level of enjoyment of these activities. Other researchers have not focused on the role of non-coital sexual activity in sexual satisfaction.

HYPOTHESES

With respect to relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction, we predicted that higher levels of satisfaction with the overall relationship and with non-sexual aspects of the relationship would be associated with higher levels of sexual satisfaction.

With respect to religiosity and sexual satisfaction, we predicted that greater religiosity per se would be associated with lower levels of sexual satisfaction, and further, that religiosity and "perception of God's view of sexuality" would have interrelated effects on sexual satisfaction such that high religious commitment and a perception of "God's view of sexuality" as positive would be associated with higher levels of sexual satisfaction; whereas, high religious commitment and a perception of God's view of sexuality" as negative would be associated with lower levels of sexual satisfaction.

With respect to the relationship between the two measures of religious belief and specific sexual behaviours, we predicted that orgasm consistency, frequency of sexual activity and attitudes toward and participation in non-coital sexual activities would be significantly related to religiosity and perception of God's view of sexuality.

Finally, with respect to the relationship of specific sexual behaviour variables and sexual satisfaction, we predicted that greater orgasmic consistency, greater frequency of sexual activity, and more positive attitudes toward and frequent participation in non-coital sexual activities, would all be associated with higher levels of sexual satisfaction.

METHODS

PARTICIPANTS AND PROCEDURE

Participants for the study were obtained from a sample, stratified by age, of 5,000 married adults. This was a United States sample with representation from 49 of the 50 states. The sample included 1,000 potential respondents ages 20-29; 1,000 ages 30-39; 1,000 ages 40-49; 1,000 ages 50-59; and 1,000 age 60 and older. Participants were contacted by mail. The mailing list was purchased from a national corporation that provides mailing lists for research and marketing purposes.

The 839 participants who returned usable questionnaires constituted a 16.8% return rate. The only identification of participants was the mailing label, which was placed on the envelope sent to them. Thus, it was not possible to do a second mailing to non-respondents. A low return rate such as we obtained does not allow one to make a valid estimation of population parameters. However, since the focus of this study was the relationship between variables, rather than the estimation of population parameters, the low return rate was not as problematic as it would have been if we had been conducting a strictly descriptive study.

SURVEY INSTRUMENT AND MEASURES USED

The testing instrument was a 70-item questionnaire. The questionnaire was used to elicit information concerning the subjects' sexual satisfaction, as well as information concerning a number of other variables we suspected were related to sexual satisfaction. These variables and the methods used to assess them are listed below.

(1) Marriage satisfaction. A single question, "All things considered, how satisfied are you with your marriage" was answered on a four point Likert-type scale with the following response options: 1 - very satisfied; 2 - satisfied; 3 - dissatisfied; 4 - very dissatisfied. Responses were recoded so that higher scores would reflect higher levels of satisfaction.

(2) Frequency of orgasm for self and partner per sexual encounter. Two questions, each answered on a 5-point scale, asked, "How often does sexual activity with your spouse result in at least one orgasm for you?" and "How often does sexual activity with your spouse result in at least one orgasm for your spouse?" Response options were: 1 - all of the time; 2 - most of the time; 3 - sometimes; 4 - rarely; 5 - never. Responses were recoded so that higher scores reflected a greater frequency of orgasm. Possible overall score range was 2-10. Overall score was converted to an average item score (possible range 1-5) with 5 indicating high frequency of orgasm.

(3) Frequency of sexual activity with spouse. A single question, "How often do you and your spouse engage in sexual activity?", invited a numerical estimate of "the approximate number of occasions per month in which you and your spouse engage in sexual activity."

(4) Sexual Satisfaction. An 11-item scale (Table 1, Scale 1), adapted from the Sexual Satisfaction Scale of the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (Derogatis & Melisaratos, 1979), was scored on a 5-point Likert-type scale with options ranging from: 1 - strongly agree; 2 - agree; 3 - undecided; 4 - disagree; 5 - strongly disagree. Responses were recoded so that higher scores reflected higher sexual satisfaction. Possible overall score range was 11-55. Overall score was converted to an average item score (possible range 1-5), with 5 indicating high sexual satisfaction. The internal consistency of the scale, as measured by Cronbach's alpha, was 0.93.

Table 1 Questions employed in the four scales developed to assess marital sexual satisfaction, satisfaction with non sexual aspects of relationship, uninhibitedness, and "perception of God's view of sex".

(5) Satisfaction with non-sexual aspects of relationship. A 3-item scale developed by the authors and scored on a 5-point Likert-type scale assessed shared goals, respect and recreational companionship (Table 1, Scale 2). Response options were: 1 - strongly agree; 2 - agree; 3 - undecided; 4 - disagree; 5 - strongly disagree. Possible overall score range was 3-15. Overall score was converted to an average item score (possible range 1-5), with 5 indicating high satisfaction. Cronbach's alpha for the measure was 0.86.

(6) Uninhibitedness in sexual activity with spouse. A 7-item measure developed by the authors (Table 1, Scale 3) and graded on a 5-point Likert-type scale assessed occurrence and/or enjoyment of oral-genital sex, anal sex, and masturbation. Response options for four attitude items (I enjoy...) ranged from: 1 - strongly agree; 2 - agree; 3 - undecided; 4 - disagree; 5 - strongly disagree. For three behaviour items (how often...), response options ranged from: 1 - all of the time; 2 - most of the time; 3 - sometimes; 4 - rarely; 5 - never. Responses were recoded so that higher scores reflected greater enjoyment and more frequent participation. Possible overall score range was 7-35. Overall score was converted to an average item score (possible range 1-5), with 5 indicating high degree of enjoyment and participation. Cronbach's alpha for the scale was 0.79.

(7) Religiosity (degree of religious commitment). A 13-item scale adopted by Young and Loquis (1995) from the 23-item Religiosity Scale of Falkner and DeJong (1966) had a varied number of response options. Four items had three possible responses and I item had two possible responses. In each case responses represented progressive deviations from a traditional Judeo-Christian standard. Responses were recoded so that higher scores reflected greater religiosity. Possible overall score range was 13-42. Overall score was converted to an average item score (possible range 1-3.23), with 3.23 indicating high degree of enjoyment and participation. Cronbach's alpha was 0.89.

(8) Perception of God's view of sex. Three items were worded in a restrictive manner (only for procreation; is a sin; would not be approved). The three other items were worded in an approving manner (should be enjoyed; for mutual enjoyment; approved of) (Table 1, Scale 4). Response options were: 1 - strongly agree; 2 - agree; 3 - undecided; 4 - disagree; 5 - strongly disagree. Responses were recoded so that higher scores reflected a perception that God has a positive, approving view of sexual activity within marriage. Possible overall score range was 6-30. Overall score was converted to an average item score (possible range 1-5), with 5 indicating a positive perception. Cronbach's alpha was 0.63.

(9) Scores on the two religious belief measures (7 and 8) were combined to create an interaction variable (religiosity x perception of God's view of sex) produced by multiplying each person's z-score for each scale. This was done on the expectation that scores on perceptions of God's view of sex might be more associated with sexual satisfaction in people with high vs. low religiosity scores.

DATA ANALYSIS

Data were analyzed using SPSS programs, including descriptive statistics, zero order correlations and multiple regression. The correlations allowed us to identify the existence of relationships between single predictor variables and sexual satisfaction, as well as correlations between predictor variables. To identify a combination of factors affecting sexual satisfaction, a hierarchical regression model was hypothesized. All independent variables were entered into the model in order of theoretical importance: (a) non-sexual aspects of the relationship; (b) overall satisfaction with the marriage; (c) frequency of self-spouse orgasm; (d) frequency of sexual activity; (e) sexual uninhibitedness; and (f) a block of variables consisting of religiosity, God's view of sex, and the interaction of religiosity and God's view of sex. Variables were removed from the model if they did not make a significant (p [is less than] .05) contribution to the model.

RESULTS

DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF RESPONDENTS

Among the 851 respondents, 195 (about one-quarter) were men, 639 women and 17 did not say. The five age groups each represented between 14% and 26% of the sample as follows: 20-29 (n=116), 30-39 (n=218); 40-49 (n=202); 50-59 (n=135); 60 and over (n=121) (49 did not state age). Over 90% of respondents were Caucasian (n=778) with the remainder being African American (n=23), Hispanic (n=18), Asian (n=11) and American Indian (n=2) (17 did not reply). There were 17 respondents who did not indicate their race. Exclusion of some questionnaires because of incomplete data left a sample for analysis of 797 (616 females, 181 males).

MEAN SCORES FOR SEXUAL SATISFACTION AND ASSOCIATED VARIABLES

Mean scores for the entire sample on sexual satisfaction and related variables are given in Table 2. The results suggest that respondents were generally satisfied with the sexual and non-sexual aspects of their relationships, had relatively high concurrence of orgasm for both partners at each encounter, scored in the mid-range of the uninhibitedness scale, and leaned toward the committed end of the religiosity scale and toward a more sexually permissive than restrictive God, at least for married heterosexual couples. Responses on each measure showed sufficient variability to permit hypothesis testing via the zero order correlations and multiple regression analyses presented below.

Table 2 Mean scores for sexual satisfaction and potentially associated variables (n=797)

(*) For multiple item scales, the mean represents the per item mean. Items from the following scales: sexual satisfaction, non-sexual aspects of the relationship, overall satisfaction with the marriage, self-spouse orgasm, uninhibitedness, were scored on a one to five point basis. Higher scores reflect greater sexual satisfaction, greater satisfaction with the marriage, more frequent orgasms, greater degree of uninhibitedness, a greater degree of religious commitment, and a "perception of God's view of sex" as more positive (less restrictive).

RESULTS FROM CORRELATIONS

Table 3 includes correlations among the various independent variables and sexual satisfaction. Sexual satisfaction correlated significantly (p [is less than] .001) with (a) non-sexual aspects of the relationship (r=.61), (b) marital satisfaction (r=.62), (c) self- spouse orgasm (r=.53), (d) frequency of sexual activity (r=.37), and (e) sexual uninhibitedness (r=.23). The only pair of independent variables with a correlation greater than r=.30 were satisfaction with the non-sexual aspects of the relationship and marital satisfaction (r=.71, p [is less than] .001).

Table 3 Correlation Matrix for variables hypothesized to be associated with sexual satisfaction

a) Sexual = Sexual Satisfaction; Nonsex = Non-sexual Aspects of the Relationship; Marital = Overall Satisfaction With the Marriage; Orgasm = Frequency of Self-Spouse Orgasm; Freq = Frequency of Sexual Activity; Unin = Sexual Uninhibitedness; Rel = Religiosity; Godv = Perception of God's View of Sex; RelxGodv = Interaction of Religiosity and Perception of God's View of Sex

b) N for all correlations = 797. This analysis was restricted to people who had a score for all variables. These are the correlations on which the multiple regression was based.

RESULTS FROM MULTIPLE REGRESSION ANALYSIS

The multiple regression procedure, using sexual satisfaction as the dependent variable, was used to identify several different models, which each accounted for a significant portion of the variation in sexual satisfaction. The initial model included the following predictor variables: religiosity, perception of God's view sex, religiosity x perception of God's view of sex, non-sexual aspects of the relationship, overall satisfaction with the marriage, frequency of self-spouse orgasm, frequency of sexual activity, and uninhibitedness (R Squared = .607). When the three variables dealing with religion/God were deleted from the model there was an R Squared change of only -.002 (F = 1.650, p=.176), indicating that as a set these three variables did not make a significant contribution to the model. When the next variable, sexual uninhibitedness, was deleted from the model, there was a significant (p [is less than] .001) decrease in the amount of variation in sexual satisfaction for which the model accounted. Thus, the final model consisted of' five predictor variables (non-sexual aspects of the relationship, overall satisfaction with the marriage, frequency of self-spouse orgasm, frequency of sexual activity, and uninhibitedness) and accounted for slightly more than 60% (.602) of the variation in sexual satisfaction. The model summary is shown in Table 4.

Table 4 Accounting for Variation in Sexual Satisfaction - Multiple Regression - Model Summary

There was no significant difference in sexual satisfaction scores between males and females (t=1.757, p=.185) nor did gender account for a significant amount of the variation in sexual satisfaction when added to the regression model (t = -1.506, p=.133). With respect to sex differences on the various dependent variables, we found differences between men and women in: (1) satisfaction with non-sexual aspects of the relationship (t=2.47, p=.014), with males' indicating greater satisfaction; (2) sexual uninhibitedness (t=4.49, p [is less than] .001), with males' indicating greater uninhibitedness; and (3) religiosity (t=-4.13, p [is less than] .001), with females' indicating greater religiosity. There was no difference (p [is greater than] .05) between males and females regarding marital satisfaction, self/spouse orgasm, frequency of sexual activity, perception of God's view of sex or the interaction of God's view of sex and religiosity.

DISCUSSION

In this study we identified a set of variables that accounted for a substantial amount (60.2%) of the variation in sexual satisfaction in a sample of married men and women. The set of five predictor variables that comprise the final model included: overall satisfaction with the marriage; non-sexual aspects of the relationship; self-spouse orgasm; frequency of sexual activity; and uninhibitedness.

OVERALL SATISFACTION WITH MARRIAGE

The variable "overall satisfaction with the marriage" had the highest correlation (r=.622) with sexual satisfaction. The correlation between sexual satisfaction and overall satisfaction with the relationships was as hypothesized. This finding supports the research of Schenk, Pfrang and Rausche (1983) who found that husbands' and wives' ratings of satisfaction with their sexual interactions were significantly related to the overall quality of their marital relationship. In a related study, Przybyla and Byrne (1981) found that for men, the sexual relationship was important in determining the man's overall marital satisfaction; whereas, the woman's overall marital satisfaction was important in determining the quality of her sexual relationship. Our findings confirm that overall satisfaction with the marriage does appear to have an impact on sexual satisfaction.

SATISFACTION WITH NON-SEXUAL ASPECTS OF THE RELATIONSHIP

The variable with the second highest correlation (r=.609) with sexual satisfaction was "satisfaction with non-sexual aspects of the relationship". This finding was also as hypothesized. This variable, as well as the variable "marital satisfaction", does seem to be reflective of relationship quality. Lawrance and Byers (1995) and Oggins et al. (1993) have found that characteristics which are indicative of the quality of the relationship are related to level of sexual satisfaction. Other researchers have also found the quality of the relationship to be related to sexual satisfaction. Newcomb and Bentler (1983), in their study of female orgasmic responsiveness, found greater sexual satisfaction to be related to involvement in a close personal relationship. Findings by Frank et al. (1979) and Health (1978) also support the notion that the general quality of the relationship influences sexual satisfaction. Broderick (1992) reported emotional closeness to be positively related to sexual satisfaction in marriage, as have other researchers (Darling, Davidson & Cox ,1991; Hurlbert, et al., 1993; Rosenzweig & Dailey, 1989). Relating emotional closeness to sexual satisfaction appears to be a popular notion that is supported by our findings (to the extent that the "non-sexual aspects" factor is reflective of emotion).

FREQUENCY OF SELF/SPOUSE ORGASM

Frequency of self/spouse orgasm was the variable with the third highest correlation with sexual satisfaction (r=.529), thus indicating that a high level of sexual functioning is important to overall sexual satisfaction. This finding was as we had hypothesized. Lief (1980) indicated that there is a presumption that sexual activity that is regularly accompanied by orgasms is associated with greater satisfaction, or happiness, than is sex without orgasms. This was certainly the case in our study. Other researchers also have examined the relationship of orgasm frequency to sexual satisfaction. Perlman and Abramson (1981) found that respondents who reported the greatest sexual satisfaction also had more orgasms than those who reported dissatisfaction. Newcomb and Bentler (1983) observed that female sexual satisfaction was related to both the partner's emphasis on the woman's experiencing an orgasm and to the consistency of orgasmic response. Hurlbert et al. (1993) also found orgasmic consistency to be predictive of female sexual satisfaction. Waterman and Chiauzzi (1982) indicated that the women in their study who reported the most frequent orgasms expressed greater satisfaction with their sexual activities than did those with relatively infrequent orgasms. These researchers found that an individual's sexual pleasure was independent of whether his or her partner experienced orgasm. In contrast, in our study, we examined self/spouse orgasm as a single variable and found that this was indeed an important factor in sexual satisfaction.

FREQUENCY OF SEXUAL ACTIVITY

The fourth variable in the model (r = .370) was "frequency of sexual activity" which indicated that those who indicated a higher frequency of sexual activity tended to have higher levels of sexual satisfaction. This finding was as we had hypothesized. Blumstein and Schwartz (1983) found that degree of sexual satisfaction was directly correlated with the frequency of sex. Close to 90% of men and women who had sex three or more times each week expressed satisfaction with their sex lives; whereas, fewer than half expressed satisfaction when the frequency of sex was between once a week and once a month. Only one-third of those with frequency rates of once per month or less reported satisfaction. Other researchers (Zhou, 1993; Bentler & Peeler, 1979; Hurlbert et al., 1993) also found that higher levels of sexual activity were related to increased sexual satisfaction. Kelley (1994) commented on the Blumstein and Schwartz (1983) work, indicating that "while these statistics could suggest that people are more satisfied simply because they have it more frequently, they could also tell us that the couples who had sex less frequently did so because it tended to be somehow less pleasurable and satisfying for them". In any case, our findings mirror those of Blumstein and Schwartz (1983) indicating either or both situations (i.e., frequency has an impact on satisfaction or satisfaction has an impact on frequency).

UNINHIBITEDNESS

The final item in the model was sexual uninhibitedness (r = .230). An examination of the items that make up this scale indicates that participation in and enjoyment of non-coital sexual activities plays a role in sexual satisfaction. Thus, this variable reflects an individual's interest in and willingness to participate in a variety of sexual activities, a tendency that we interpret as sexual uninhibitedness. As hypothesized, those who indicated higher levels of sexual uninhibitedness also reported higher levels of sexual satisfaction.

RELIGIOUS BELIEF VARIABLES

Three variables related to religion were entered into the initial multiple regression model: religiosity, God's view of sex and their interaction. Contrary to our hypothesis, these variables did not make a significant contribution toward explaining the variation in sexual satisfaction, and therefore were eliminated from the model. None of these three variables was correlated with sexual satisfaction but, as predicted, all three were significantly correlated (p [is less than] .05) with sexual uninhibitedness. Though statistically significant, these were relatively weak correlations (religiosity - r= -.286, perception of God's view of sex - r =. 179, interaction - r =.062).

As hypothesized, religiosity x perception of God's view of sex was also significantly correlated with frequency of sexual activity (p [is less than or equal to] .05). This was a weak correlation (r = .058). The other two religion variables were not correlated with frequency of sexual activity. Finally, we had hypothesized that all three religion variables would be significantly correlated with orgasm consistency. None was. Previous research has produced mixed results on the impact of religion on sexual satisfaction. Davidson et al. (1995) reported that religious commitment (as measured by frequency of church attendance) did impact on "physiological" sexual satisfaction, but not "psychological" satisfaction. Paxton and Turner (1976) and Davidson and Moore (1996) found no relationship between sexual satisfaction and religiosity among female undergraduates.

We had hypothesized in this study that religiosity, and particularly a person's perception of God's view of sex, would account for a substantial amount of the variation in sexual satisfaction. The items related to religiosity did not account for a statistically significant amount of the variation in sexual satisfaction. In fact, the correlations between the religion variables and sexual satisfaction ranged from only .019 to .052. We had also thought it would be interesting to examine sexual satisfaction and its relationship to religiosity and perception of God's view of sex when the two latter factors were considered together (e.g., do people who have a high religious commitment and perceive that God has a positive view of sex report a higher level of sexual satisfaction than people who have a high religious commitment and perceive that God has a negative view of sex)? This yielded a correlation of .032.

Overall, the results reinforce the concept implicit in our hypotheses that a couple's sexual interactions cannot be compartmentalized, but must be considered within the context of the overall relationship. We must note, however, that the low return rate, and the low proportion of men in the sample, may severely limit the generalizability of the findings. In addition, none of the respondents in this study scored at the very low (restrictive) end of the scale that measured perceptions of "God's view of sex" negatively. This finding does not mean that there are no people who hold such views, only that it may be difficult to engage them as volunteers to participate in sexuality research.

References

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Correspondence concerning this paper should be addressed to: Michael Young, Ph.D., University of Arkansas, HPER 326A, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA.
Scale 1                 Sexual Satisfaction

I am satisfied with my spouse as a sexual partner.
After sex I feel relaxed, fulfilled.
I have satisfying orgasm.
I feel that foreplay with my spouse is very arousing.
I have good communication with my spouse about sex.
I am satisfied with the variety of sexual positions
 and activities in which my spouse and I participate.
I am pleased with the frequency with which my spouse
 and I engage in sexual activity.
I am pleased with the intensity of sexual activity in
 which my spouse and I engage.
My spouse makes me feel sexually desirable.
I am sexually attracted to my spouse.
My spouse makes it clear that I provide him/her with a
 great deal of sexual pleasure.

Cronbach's alpha                 .93

Scale 2                 Satisfaction With Non-Sexual Aspects of the
                         Relationship

My spouse and I share with each other our goals,
 dreams, plans, thoughts and feelings.
I have a great deal of respect for the person who
 is my spouse.
My spouse is a valued companion in recreational activities.

Cronbach's alpha                 .86

Scale 3                 Uninhibitedness

I enjoy using my mouth and tongue to stimulate
 the genitals of my spouse.
I enjoy my spouse using his/her mouth and tongue
 to stimulate my genitals.
I enjoy participating in anal sex with my spouse.
I enjoy participating in masturbation.
When you and your spouse engage in sexual activity,
 how often does this activity involve your spouse
 performing oral sex on you?
When you and your spouse engage in sexual activity,
 how often does this activity involve you performing
 oral sex on your spouse?
When you and your spouse engage in sexual activity,
 how often does this activity involve anal sex?

Cronbach's alpha                 .79

Scale 4                 Perception of God's View of Sex (First three
                         items were reversed scored.)

God intended sex to be only for procreation.
Within marriage participation in sexual activities
 solely for pleasure is a sin.
Within marriage participation in sexual activities
 other than penile vaginal intercourse, such as oral
 sex, would not be approved of by God.
Within marriage, sexuality is a gift of God and as such
 should be enjoyed.
Within marriage, God regards reproduction as only one
 purpose of sexual activity, it is also for mutual
 enjoyment and pleasuring.
Within marriage, any sexual activity that is agreeable
 and pleasurable to both partners is approved of by God.

Cronbach's alpha                 .63


Variables                                           Mean(*)

Sexual satisfaction                                  3.97
Non-sexual aspects of the relationship               4.32
Overall satisfaction with the marriage               3.44
Self-spouse orgasm                                   4.26
Frequency of sexual activity (per month)             7.70
Uninhibitedness                                      2.75
Religiosity                                          3.11
Perception of God's view of sex                      4.28
Religiosity x Perception of God's view of sex        -.09

Variables                                       Std. Deviation

Sexual satisfaction                                  .84
Non-sexual aspects of the relationship               .82
Overall satisfaction with the marriage               .68
Self-spouse orgasm                                   .68
Frequency of sexual activity (per month)            7.3
Uninhibitedness                                      .78
Religiosity                                          .53
Perception of God's view of sex                      .56
Religiosity x Perception of God's view of sex        .11


Variables(a)    Sexual   Nonsex    Marital

Sexual          1.000     .609       .622
 Sig.(b)                  .000       .000

Nonsex           .609    1.000       .706
 Sig.                     .000       .000

Marital          .622     .706      1.000
 Sig.                     .000       .000

Orgasm           .529     .274       .297
 Sig.                     .000       .000

Freq             .370     .196       .224
 Sig.                     .000       .000

Unin             .230     .074       .046
 Sig.                     .000       .019

Rel              .019     .013       .024
 Sig.                     .299       .356

Godv             .052     .037       .019
 Sig.                     .070       .149

RelxGodv         .032     .030       .035
 Sig.                     .185       .201

Variables(a)    Orgasm    Freq       Unin

Sexual           .529     .370       .230
 Sig.(b)         .000     .000       .000

Nonsex           .274     .196       .074
 Sig.            .000     .000       .019

Marital          .297     .234       .046
 Sig.            .000     .000       .095

Orgasm          1.000     .168       .191
 Sig.            .000     .000       .000

Freq             .168    1.000       .207
 Sig.            .000     .000       .000

Unin             .191     .207      1.000
 Sig.            .095     .000       .000

Rel              .017    -.027      -.286
 Sig.            .251     .317       .225

Godv             .050     .003       .179
 Sig.            .296     .080       .464

RelxGodv         .013     .058       .062
 Sig.            .160     .362       .050

Variables(a)      Rel     Godv      RelxGodv

Sexual           .019     .052       .032
 Sig.(b)         .299     .070       .185

Nonsex           .013     .037       .030
 Sig.            .356     .149       .201

Marital          .024     .019       .035
 Sig.            .251     .296       .160

Orgasm          -.017     .050       .013
 Sig.            .317     .080       .362

Freq            -.027     .003       .058
 Sig.            .225     .464       .050

Unin            -.286     .179       .062
 Sig.            .000     .000       .040

Rel             1.000    -.092       .012
 Sig.            .000     .005       .372

Godv            -.092    1.000       .020
 Sig.            .000     .005       .286

RelxGodv         .012    -.020      1.000
Sig.             .040     .372       .286


Variable                        R       Adjusted R   R Square
Removed                                   Square      Change

All Variables                 .779         .603        .607
Religiosity,                  .777         .602       -.002
Perception of God's View      .771         .593       -.009
  of Sex, Interaction
  Uninhibitedness
Frequency of Sex              .748         .558       -.036
Self/Spouse Orgasm            .667         .443       -.115
Marital Satisfaction          .609         .370       -.074
Non-sexual Aspects            .000         .000       -.371

Variable                        F Change           Sig. F
Removed

All Variables              F(8, 788) = 151.967      .000
Religiosity,               F(3, 794) =   1.650      .176
Perception of God's View   F(1, 793) =  18.171      .000
  of Sex, Interaction
  Uninhibitedness
Frequency of Sex           F(1, 794) =  69.749      .000
Self/Spouse Orgasm         F(1, 795) = 206.823      .000
Marital Satisfaction       F(1, 796) = 105.319      .000
Non-sexual Aspects         F(1, 797) = 468.862      .00
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