MONDAY, Feb. 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- A new study seems to lend credence to the adage that there may be snow on the rooftop but there's fire in the furnace.
People in the early years of marriage have sex more frequently, but then levels of intimacy typically taper off over time. However, there's a slight rebound in sexual activity for couples whose marriages pass the half century mark, new research suggests.
While married couples tend to have less sex the longer they're together, "it may be that the permanency of the relationship contributes to sexual relations picking up a bit at the end," study co-author Samuel Stroope, an assistant professor of sociology at Louisiana State University, said in a Baylor University news release.
The study was conducted by researchers from Louisiana State University, Florida State University and Baylor University.
"Growing old as a couple, with the experience and knowledge that come with that, may play a part. You are able to learn about your partner and build on that over time," Stroope said. "You may have a higher level of trust when you feel that your spouse isn't going to go anywhere. The expectation that the relationship will continue may give you more reason to invest in the relationship -- including in sexual aspects of the relationship."
People also tend to be more even-keeled as they age, which may reduce marital conflict and encourage more sexual activity, Stroope added.
However, the researchers noted that people who survive until their 50th year of marriage -- among whom the slight rebound occurred -- are relatively few in number.
The researchers analyzed data from more than 1,600 married Americans, aged 57 to 85, and their findings were published Feb. 16 in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
The researchers also found that people who are still in their first marriage have sex more often than those who remarried. However, being in a first marriage or being remarried made no difference in terms of physical pleasure and emotional satisfaction from what sex was had.
The reason why people who have remarried have less sex than those still in first marriages "may be that those who have been married in the past may not have as strong of a sense of permanence or lasting investment," he said.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about sexuality in older adults.