2006 Love, Sex & Self-Image Poll
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2006 Love, Sex & Self-Image Poll

Would you rather give up sex or conversation with your husband? How far would you go to lose 25 pounds? Would you cheat on your husband if you could get away with it? See how 529 women across the country answered these provocative questions.

How Happy Is Your Marriage?

Question: If you could get away with one transgression in your marriage without risking your husband's love, what would it be?

You're a group with a lot of integrity. Sixty-one  percent of you would not commit any transgression, even if you could get away with it. Younger women were even more emphatic than older ones: 71 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds wouldn't misbehave. Besides, say 21 percent of you, none of the bad behaviors we mentioned would cost you your husband's love in any case.

On the menu of possible misbehaviors, here's what a few of you said you'd do:

Drain your nest egg of $10,000 to splurge on whatever you wanted: 5 percent
Eat whatever you wanted for a year, even if it meant doubling your weight: 4 percent (This was most appealing to those of you who are ages 45 to 54)
Indulge in a brief, torrid affair: 1 percent

Question: If you knew then what you know now about your husband, would you still marry him?

Ninety percent of you said yes. By the time you're 65 or older, you may have second thoughts; only 78 percent of you say yes.

Question: Who do you believe is happier in your marriage -- you or your husband?

Both of us: 50 percent
Him: 21 percent
Me: 17 percent

Women in households making $25,000 or less and Northeastern women are the most certain that he's happier (39 percent and 36 percent, respectively).

Question: Which would you consider the more serious blow to the health of your marriage?

My husband having a yearlong sexless affair of the heart: 52 percent
My husband having a loveless one-night stand: 22 percent

After you turn 65, your numbers flip. You are more likely to object to a physical affair than an emotional one.

If you're the cheater, your opinion splits more evenly. The more serious blow to your marriage is an affair of the heart for 37 percent, while 32 percent feel it's a one-night stand. The younger you are, the more you worry about your own purely emotional affair.

Question: Have you been attracted to someone else's husband in your circle?

No, say 80 percent of you. Most likely to admit someone else turned your head were married women ages 18 to 34 (27 percent) and 45 to 54 (24 percent), along with women in the South and West. Ninety-eight percent of those who copped to ogling say they've never acted on those attractions, though women 35 to 44 and those in households making more than $75,000 were most likely to make a move (11 percent and 10 percent).

Question: What would you like to change about your husband?

Not a thing, say 43 percent of you. Of those who would tinker, ditching the potbelly led the list (17 percent), especially for women 45 to 54 (28 percent) and those in the Northeast (24 percent). Another 13 percent wished he were more buff in general, which was most desired by 18- to 34-year-olds (19 percent).

Question: Do you still think your husband is "the one"?

Ninety-seven percent of you overall said yes.

Single or Married: Who Envies Whom?

Question: What's your attitude toward single women?

Better them than me: 21 percent
Their lives are so limited: 11 percent
They're so lucky: 9 percent

Married women 35 to 44 were especially pleased not to be single (34 percent), as were women in the Northeast and West (31 and 39 percent). Those with incomes under $25,000 agreed (37 percent).

Question: What's your attitude toward married women?

They're so lucky: 34 percent
Their lives are so limited: 14 percent
Better them than me: 12 percent

The number of single women who felt that those who are married are "so lucky" spiked to 42 percent among women who are in the 65-and-over group.

Still Turned On?

Question: Do you believe your husband still finds you physically attractive?

Yes, say 93 percent of you.

Question: Which would be harder for you to give up for an entire month: conversation with your husband or sex with him?

Seventy-six percent of married women say they would sacrifice sex; only 14 percent of them would want to give up conversation. Those who'd have the toughest time giving up sex? This group included women 18 to 34 (23 percent) and those 65 and older (18 percent).

Question: Do you still find your husband physically attractive?

Ninety-five percent of you say yes. Note to husbands: Capitalize on this happy attitude before your wife reaches 65; by then your cuteness rating is high with only 78 percent of wives!

Question: Which do you think would be harder for your husband to give up for a month: conversation with you or sex with you?

Conversation: 48 percent
Sex: 42 percent

African-American women feel most valued for their conversation: 71 percent feel their husbands would miss this more than they would sex.

Question: Since you've been married, what is the longest period of time you've gone without sex (other than when you were pregnant)?

Less than a month, say 30 percent of you. This answer peaked among women ages 18 to 34 (44 percent). Further, 10 percent of those between 35 and 44 confess that it has been more than a year since their last dalliance, and 14 percent of women who are ages 45 to 54 say that they can't even remember the last time they made love.

Cheat and Tell?

If you knew for sure your friend's husband was having an affair, 63 percent of you would tell her. Generally, the younger the woman, the larger was the majority who would blow the whistle. By age:

18-34: 82 percent
35-44: 67 percent
45-54: 73 percent
55-64: 42 percent
65 and older: 28 percent

If your own husband were cheating, 79 percent of you would want to know, though you tend to get less curious -- or is it less possessive? -- as you get older. By age:

18-34: 92 percent
35-44: 83 percent
45-54: 84 percent
55-64: 66 percent
65 and older: 39 percent

Northeastern women most want you to tell, and Southerners are happiest if you keep the information to yourself.

Personal Time

Question: You have an hour to indulge yourself. What will you do?

Read a magazine or book: 27 percent
Shop: 22  percent
Nap: 10 percent
Have sex with your husband: 8 percent
Call a friend: 7 percent
Exercise: 5 percent
Eat a treat: 2 percent
Watch TV: 1 percent

Question: What's the better measure of a woman's confidence level?

The way she speaks: 81 percent
The way she dresses: 11 percent

Snappy dressers are more likely to impress those ages 45 to 54. Northeasterners or those with advanced degrees put their money where their mouth is.

Question: Which prize would you most like to win?

Mom of the Year: 36 percent
Nobel Peace Prize: 25 percent
Academy Award: 6 percent
Olympic Gold Medal: 6 percent
Miss America: 3 percent
American Idol: 2 percent

The number wanting the Nobel Peace Prize rose to more than 30 percent for college graduates, women in the West, and those in households making more than $75,000 per year. Those most likely to be practicing their Oscars acceptance speech? Women ages 18 to 34.

Question: Which best describes your mood most days when you wake up?

Peaceful and content: 44 percent
Rarin' to go: 18 percent
Stressed and overwhelmed: 12 percent

Those in the West are most likely to wake up feeling stressed and overwhelmed (17 percent), more than double the number in the Northeast (8 percent).

Question: When do you think you feel most envious of a friend?

Fifty-four percent of you say you don't covet what your gal pals have.

But some do when:

She loses weight: 10 percent
She has a better job than you have: 9 percent
Her husband seems more in love with her than yours is with you: 8 percent
You think she's prettier than you are: 5 percent
Her kids seem smarter or more accomplished than yours: 4 percent
She has a better or bigger house than yours: 4 percent

Question: For those of you who work outside the home, here's how you rate your job:

31 percent love it even though the money isn't great
28 percent say you like every single thing about the job you hold
20 percent would quit if you didn't need the money
10 percent like the people, but dislike the work
3 percent like the work, but dislike the people
2 percent hate every single thing about your job

Question: What high-profile job would you most want to have for a week?

TV news anchor: 15 percent. The older a woman got, the more she saw herself in the anchor chair.
Movie star: 13 percent. Sought after most by women 18 to 34.
President: 11 percent. Women 18 to 34 were most likely to see themselves as Madame President, as were those in the South and West.
First Lady: 9 percent Of all groups, 55- to 64-year-olds were most attracted to this.
American Idol judge: 6 percent. Most popular among those 35 to 44.

Question: What would you give up to lose 25 pounds for good?

The big news: 30 percent of you say you don't need to lose 25 pounds, and even if you did, 55 percent of you wouldn't give up sex, money, or friends to shed it. Of those willing to make a trade:

Sex with your husband for a year: 5 percent
50 percent of your life savings: 3 percent
Your relationship with your best friend, forever: 1 percent

The Kids Are All Right!

Question: If you had it to do over, would you have the same number of kids?

Yes, the same number: 73 percent
I wish I'd had more: 15 percent
I would not have had kids: 9 percent
I would have had fewer: 2 percent

Question: If you ever were to get divorced, do you believe that your kids would want to live with you or with your husband?

Sixty-five percent of you feel sure that the kids would choose to live with you.

Question: What don't you want your kids to know about your past?

Forty-five percent of you say you don't have any skeletons. But here's how it lines up for those who have secrets to keep:

That you had premarital sex: 21 percent
That you smoked cigarettes: 10 percent
That you used illegal drugs: 7 percent
That you abused alcohol: 5 percent

How The Poll Was Done
This poll is based on interviews during June 2006 with a representative group of 529 women who were ages 18 and older.

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, November 2006.