While many may believe that a past with many different partners increases the chance of happiness due to an acknowledgement of problem areas, it actually makes enjoying the marriage all the more difficult due to constant comparisons, fear of rejection, and being unable to ever fully commit to the person you’ve said vows to. According to studies, people who have more relationship experience in life are less likely to have a happy marriage.
“Couples who invite a lot of family and friends to their nuptials tend to have happier marriages than those who don’t,” said a study from the University of Virginia. Here, they tracked 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 who were not married at the time, and followed them for five years. By noting those got married, they found a range of results.
Here are the findings from two studies that discuss the phenomena:
More Sexual Partners Means More Negativity
A study from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia titled Before ‘I Do’: What Do Premarital Experiences Have to Do with Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults highlights how premarital experiences can affect your happiness in marriage. One finding was that those who have had more sexual partners are likely to have more negativity in their relationship; are they fixated on a casual or recreational state of mind?
That Rebellious Attitude
This Fox News report followed this message, stating that more previous partners equal a higher chance of divorce. Much of the discussion circled around attitude, with the experienced section of society quicker to end things and move on to seek greener pastures rather than sorting out issues. There is also the point of family; having regular sexual partners or an increased number of relationships lessens the need to link with your significant other’s family as they aren’t viewed as a necessary part of the bond. And we all know this is wrong.
Constant Fear of Life Repeating Itself
Comparing a husband to past boyfriends (or a wife to past girlfriends) means there will be triggers. If there is a similar conversation that led to an earlier break-up, misery begins. Ignorance is bliss, and if you don’t have that prior negative relationship to dwell on, there is less chance of directly thinking of negativity. Everyone fights, especially married couples. Not every relationship will end.
‘You’re Just Like Him!’
An argument containing these words hurts both parties. It makes the person with less experience think about you with another partner, and it makes you think back to when someone did some significant inner damage that hasn’t repaired. Arguments in marriage are where the differing experience levels clash, and having more knowledge in battle doesn’t always result in victory.
Coping Mechanisms, The Chameleon of The Marriage
While it can be viewed as a generalization, a person that has had many sexual partners often attaches less meaning to the act and can use it as a coping mechanism. This invokes cheating, and even though marriage is meant to cancel the opportunities with others, a tough period can call upon old habits. They die hard, so the saying goes. The husband/wife with less experience wouldn’t be able to slip into that persona in the same way, hence ending the marriage and any happiness.
Never Discovering That Level of Adult Responsibility
High levels of past relationships can equate to selfishness. Selfishness waves goodbye to responsibility. In a marriage, this can range from chores, to pets, to finances, to children. Many people will grow out of this phase and enter marriage with the mindset of becoming a fully fledged adult, but see coping mechanisms for that great old saying. The study from Virginia stated:
“Couples who “slide” rather than “decide” their way through life-changing transitions like having sex, living together and becoming pregnant are less likely to report high-quality marriages.”
And Finally…the old slip of the tongue
A person in a marriage will unfortunately blurt out details of past flames, whether they mean to or not. Memories are the mementos we carry around in our head, be they of good or bad times. The more experience, the more memories. It can be hard to completely trust others, or yourself, again.
So while there is often a claim that you can’t beat experience, in a marriage, there are few worse things than a head full of the past. Each to their own, but studies show that people who have more relationship experience generally have less happiness once the wedding bells clear.