3 min

Financial stress on couplesBy Amanda Falciglia

ABC News reports Americans 45 and older are far more open to sex outside of marriage than they were 10 years ago, but they’re engaging in sex less often and with less satisfaction.

Citing an AARP survey of 1,670 people, news reports suggest financial stress is a prime culprit.

“The economy has had an impact on these people,” said Pepper Schwartz, AARP’s sex and relationship expert. “They’re more liberal in their attitudes, yet they’re having sex less often. The only thing I see that’s changed in a negative direction is financial worries.”

Is it all downhill after 45 when it comes to fidelity, bonding, and sexual satisfaction?

According to the AARP study, Americans over 45 are reporting less frequent sexual activity and satisfaction. These results noticeably differ from previous AARP survey responses on sex practices of Americans 45 and older. New findings show both greater sexual dissatisfaction and increasingly liberal attitudes towards sexual practices.

Of those surveyed 40 percent reported engaging in sexual activity only once a month, while only 43 percent reported being satisfied with their sex life. Twenty-two percent of respondents said sex outside of marriage is wrong, a 19% decrease since 1999. What is causing this conflicting change in attitudes and practices? Can blame be placed on financial stress? What can couples do to strengthen marriages and improve sexual satisfaction?

A recent study by the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation provides strong evidence that relationship skills training that enhances empathy, communication, and emotional literacy is highly effective for improving sexual satisfaction. Eighty-five percent of 490 women participating in nine hours of marriage education reported their sex lives improved six months after completing training with their partners.

  • 85 percent reported improvements in physical intimacy.
  • 46 percent decline in women reporting being “too tired for sex.”
  • 44 percent increase in women reporting they are satisfied with their sex lives.

These findings are encouraging, pointing  to the often overlooked sexual benefits of brief, skills-based educational programs designed to enhance martial satisfaction and stability.



PAIRS Foundation

National Health Marriage Resource Center

California Healthy Marriage Coalition

Smart Marriages