Couples who avoid sex before marriage end up having happier, more stable relationships -- and a better time in bed, according to psychologists.
A US study backs the straightlaced view that sex should wait until your wedding night.
Researchers questioned more than 2,000 married individuals about their relationships, and asked them when they started having sex. Analysis showed there were rewards for not getting physical too fast.
Compared with those having sex early, couples who waited until they were married rated the stability of their relationships 22pc higher.
They also had 20pc increased levels of relationship satisfaction, 12pc better communication and 15pc improved "sexual quality".
Professor Dean Busby, of Brigham Young University in Utah, said: "There's more to a relationship than sex, but we did find that those who waited longer were happier with the sexual aspect of their relationship. I think it's because they've learned to talk and have the skills to work with issues that come up."
For couples that became sexually involved later in a relationship but prior to marriage, the benefits were about half as strong. The findings appear in the Journal of Family Psychology. US sociologist and "sexpert" Dr Mark Regnerus, at the University of Texas at Austin, commented on the findings.
"Couples who hit the honeymoon too early -- that is, prioritise sex promptly at the outset of a relationship -- often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy," he said.
Since vows of chastity often accompany religious involvement, this was controlled for in the study.
"Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationships form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction," said Dr Prof Busby.