Those with happy marriages were more likely to have had a large number of guests at their wedding and have had fewer romantic relationships prior to getting married, according to the study, “Before ‘I Do:’ What Do Premarital Experiences Have to Do with Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults?” by Galena K. Rhoades, research associate professor of psychology at the University of Denver, and Scott M. Stanley, research professor and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver.
The researchers speculate that those with prior relationships have difficulties in marriage because they are able to compare their current spouse to previous partners, and devoting oneself to a single spouse may be more difficult after having a lot of experience.
“In most areas, more experience is better. You’re a better job candidate with more experience, not less. When it comes to relationship experience, though, we found that having more experience before getting married was associated with lower marital quality,” Rhoades explained.
Prior romantic experiences could include sexual encounters or cohabiting partners. Women who had a child from a prior relationship reported lower marital quality, but the same was not true for men.