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Sexuality is one of the most important types of intimacy couples share. Sexuality involves the sharing of very private, personal aspects of the self— one's nude body, expressing to a partner what feels good, and experiencing an orgasm in the presence of the partner.

Positive experiences with sexual intimacy are associated with relationship success: heterosexual couples who remain married report that their sexual relationships are better after marriage, whereas those who divorce report, in retrospect, that theirs were worse. Although satisfied relationship partners engage in more frequent sexual relations, sex frequency is an imperfect gauge of relationship intimacy. Sexual contact is less frequent in more enduring relationships, when partners are older or less educated, and when relationships are less equitable.

Less frequent sexual contact does not always signal a relationship in trouble. Desire or lack thereof may be an even more significant indicator of a relationship's functioning than coital frequency. Pamela C. Regan (1998) found that sexual desire is more closely associated with feelings of love than sexual behavior in the minds of college students as well. Couples in therapy with sexual desire problems have a poorer prognosis than those whose problems are more centered around lack of shared gratification.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationshipsIntimacy - Conceptions Of Intimacy, Intimate Interactions, Openness And Self-disclosure , Partner Responsiveness , Communication Of Positive Regard