Relationship Guide Review

The Economics of Married Sex: Is Your Sexual Relationship Worth More Than $13,260 per year? by Mischelle Davis

Research into the sexual relationships of married couples and studies of the legal sex industry suggest that the monetary value of the average married couple’s sex life is between $13,260 and $100,000 per year.

Is Your Sexual Relationship Worth More

An In-depth Examination of the Sexual Relationship Component of ‘Loss of Consortium’ Legal Claims

Is Your Sexual Relationship Worth MoreMost people know that when a person is injured in a car accident they are entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.  But what is not commonly known is that if the injured party is married or in a domestic partnership their spouse may be entitled to compensation for what is known as “loss of consortium”.
Loss of consortium is a term used in tort law that refers to the deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship due to injuries caused by an individual, company, or entity that is found to have committed negligence or wrongdoing.  If the injured party can no longer provide the same relationship, his or her spouse, child, or parent can recover damages for the loss of consortium.
It is very difficult to assign a dollar figure to the loss of consortium.  Many think it is nearly impossible.  In fact, some attorneys won’t bring a loss of consortium claim for their client’s spouse—they just think it is too difficult to quantify.
In terms of a married couple (or domestic partnership) loss of consortium specifically refers to the loss of love, companionship, affection, society, comfort, support, solace, and sexual relationship.  How do you put a price tag on any of those things?
For this article, we decided to conduct a deep examination of the sexual relationship component of loss of consortium.  We wondered if it is possible to use existing research into the sexual relationships of married couples and studies of the sex industry to actually quantify the potential monetary value of a couple’s sexual relationship.  Is Your Sexual Relationship Worth More to you?
To answer the question “what is a married couple’s sex life worth in dollars and cents?” we looked for scholarly research that answered the following fundamental questions:

We believe this analysis may be somewhat flawed but the results are interesting nonetheless.  First, let’s review the data points we found.

Can a car accident damage a married couple’s sexual relationship?

First, let’s look at whether or not a common injury accident, such as an automobile collision, can damage a couple’s sexual relationship.
Of course, there are accidents that cause paralysis or in which the victim suffers injuries to their genitals.  Those are obvious.  But do other types of car accident injuries impact sex drive or sexual performance?
According to a January 2017 Psychology Today article, automobile accidents are the leading cause of concussions and mild traumatic brain injury in the US.  One out of four accident victims sustains a concussion without even realizing it.  And sexual dysfunction or loss of sex drive are common physical issues related to post-concussion syndrome.
But what about the moderate back, neck or other injuries sustained in an automobile accident?  Do they impact a couple’s sex life?  If the injured person is taking painkillers then the answer is “yes”.
Spine Universe national survey of back pain patients found that back pain resulted in less sex, less satisfying sex, and increased relational difficulties with partners 72% of the time.
According to a January 2019 article which appeared in Medical News Today, certain conditions and medications can impact sexual desire, the ability to become physically aroused or cause erectile dysfunction. An unfortunate side effect of opioid painkillers such as morphine or OxyContin (oxycodone) is that the drugs can also reduce the production of testosterone and other hormones that help drive sexual desire in both men and women.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that “long-term use of opioids may be associated with decreased sex hormone levels and symptoms such as reduced interest in sex, impotence, or infertility.”
And a 2013 study, published in the journal Spine, found that males who used opioids over long periods were significantly more likely than other males to use treatments for erectile dysfunction and hormone replacement therapies. The study included 11,327 adult male participants who had received a diagnosis for back pain. The researchers found that 909 of the men also received medications for erectile dysfunction or testosterone replacement.

How important is sex to marriage?

According to a March 2017 Swiss study, “…sex seems not only beneficial because of its physiological or hedonic effects … but because it promotes a stronger and more positive connection with the partner”.  It went on to say, “Our findings underscore the importance of affection and positive effect for understanding how sex promotes well-being and has long-term relational benefits.”

How often do married couples have sex?  

According to a San Diego State University study entitled Declines in Sexual Frequency among American Adults, 1989–2014 which appeared in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in November 2017, married couples living under the same roof have sex about 51 times each year, or about once a week.
Another study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago entitled The Social Organization of Sexuality found that only about one-third of couples have sex two or three times per week.
In November 2015 the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science published a study which indicated that sexual frequency predicts greater well-being but does not necessarily make couples happier.  Researchers surveyed over 30,000 participants over the course of 40 years.  They found that married couples that had sex once per week seemed to reach the basic standard for marital sexual happiness.  However, couples who had sex more than once a week did not report being any happier than the once-per-week couples.  

What is sex actually worth? Or what is the price of sex?

A 2004 Dartmouth College study estimated that married couples that increased intercourse from once a month to once a week generated and increased the level of happiness that was equivalent to adding an additional $50,000 in yearly income. They went on to say that a healthy marriage depends on a loving sexual connection and that a lasting marriage equates to happiness generated by getting an extra $100,000 per year.
But the Dartmouth study valuation of sex was qualitative.  Is it possible to put a quantitative value on sex?
Here is where things get tricky.  Unfortunately, the only data that exists that puts any sort of monetary value on sexual intercourse comes from studies of sex workers.  Of course, we do not want to suggest that a marital partner is anything like a sex worker—it’s just the only financial measure available for examination.
Currently, Nevada is the only state in the US to allow legal prostitution.  A May 2018 article in The Nevada Independent stated that most prostitutes charge between $300 and $400 per hour, although some can charge as much as $1,000.
In 2014, The Economist analyzed 190,000 profiles of female sex workers on websites that post customer reviews.  According to the study, the average price of an hour of sex with a female prostitute was $260.

What about ‘for better or worse’?  Should marriage vow trump loss of consortium?

Before we get to calculate what all the above data points may mean, we should address “for better or worse”.
Many people ascribe to the notion that a spouse signs on “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” and therefore is not entitled to make a loss of consortium claim.  Some juries simply do not comprehend the loss of consortium and come to the conclusion that you marry “for better or worse” and award little or nothing on the loss of consortium claim.
The traditional marriage vows which include “… for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health…” first appeared in The Book of Common Prayer in 1549 and appears in both religious and civil wedding ceremonies around the world today.
Although we take our spouses “for better or worse” that does not mean that a negligent, careless, or reckless driver should be able to wreak havoc on a marriage with impunity.  The civil courts have determined that a marriage vow between two people does not supersede tort law.
The law provides for compensation for the loss of the relationship–loss of consortium.  In Washington State, the term “consortium” means the fellowship of husband/wife or domestic partner and the right of a spouse to the company, cooperation, and aid of the other in the relationship. It includes emotional support, love, affection, care, services, companionship, including sexual companionship, as well as assistance from one spouse to the other.

loss of consortium value of sex

What is a married couple’s sex life worth in dollars and cents?

If you accept the Dartmouth study’s valuation of marital sex the answer is between $50,000 to $100,000 annually, assuming that the couple had a healthy sex life before the accident that impacted their sexual relationship.
Or, if you want to be a bit more analytical, you can take the data points we have collected regarding the frequency of marital sex and combine them with information about the average cost of paid sex and extrapolate from there.  Just to recap the data:
  • An average married couple has sex 51 times per year. (San Diego State Study)
  • One-third of married couples have sex 2-3 times per week or 130 times per year. (University of Chicago Study)
  • Average value of sexual intercourse is $260 (Economist Study) or $350 (Nevada Independent Interview).

Thus, the annual value of the average married couple’s sex life is somewhere between $13,260 and $17,850 per year.  Or couples that have sex more frequently might value their sexual relationship somewhere between $33,800 and $36,400 annually.

What is your sex life worth to you?  Only you can be the judge.  Use the comment section at the bottom of this page to tell us what you think.
But if you or your partner is injured in an accident; your sex life suffers, and there is a loss of consortium claim then a jury may decide.
 


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