Washington: Cuddling and caressing are vital for long-term satisfaction in relationships, according to an international study.
The couples, over 1,000 from the US, Brazil, Germany, Japan and Spain, were together for an average 25 years.
The study from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University is the first to examine sexual and relationship parameters of middle-aged or older couples in committed, long-term relationships, reports the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour.
"It`s important to note that though divorce rates are high in the US, couples tend to stay married -- more than 50 percent of US couples remain in their first marriage, and that number goes up to 90 percent in Spain," said Julia Heiman, who led the study, according to a Kinsey statement.
"We know from other research that being in a long-term relationship has some value to health," said Heiman, director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.
Participants in the study were 40 to 70-year-old men and their female partners, either married or living together for a minimum of one year. The study included around 200 couples from each country.
"This study on heterosexual couples provides a basis for future research on sex and gender, such as how same-sex couples may or may not show similarities and differences in relationship and sexual satisfaction," Heiman said.
For men, relationship happiness was more likely if the man reported being in good health and if it was important to him that his partner experienced orgasm.
Surprisingly, frequent kissing or cuddling also predicted happiness in the relationship for men, but not for women.
Both men and women reported more happiness the longer they had been together, and if they themselves scored higher on several sexual functioning questionnaires.
Across all five nationalities, for both men and women, the Japanese were significantly happier with their relationships than Americans, and Brazilians and Spanish reported less relationship happiness than Americans.