The Tablet Staff
Women who are actively religious alongside husbands of the same faith are more likely to have a positive marital relationship, says a new study published by the Institute for Family Studies.
According to the Institute’s website, the study entitled ‘The Ties That Bind: Is Faith A Global Force For Good Or Ill In The Family?’ examines religion’s influence on various areas of marital relationships such as quality, fertility, abuse and infidelity.
‘The Ties That Bind sets out to give a definitive answer to a question that religious husbands and wives are asking themselves in the face today’s society:
Is religion a force for good or ill in families around the globe?
The study includes data on heterosexual couples and their families from 11 countries across three continents, taking a broad religious and culture spectrum into account by including Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, Mormon and non-religious groups in its numbers.
Authors from the World Values Survey (WVS), the Global Family and Gender Survey (GFGS), Brigham Young University and the Pew Research Center contributed to the survey, Catholic News Agency reports.
The researchers assessed their data by assigning a “relationship quality” score to each religious affiliation, where higher scores represented greater satisfaction. Catholic and Muslim couples reported an overall score of 15.83, while non-religious couples fell in a similar range.
Overall, couples who shared a particular faith were more satisfied in their family lives, the study concluded. Protestant couples scored 16.36, while Mormon couples had an average of 17.24.
“Men and women who share an active religious faith, for instance, enjoy higher levels of relationship quality and sexual satisfaction compared to their peers in secular or less/mixed religious relationships,” the authors wrote in their analysis, “they also have more children.”
The study also concluded that women in religiously devout couples were more likely to share household responsibility with their spouses. Even women who were less religious than their husbands saw a faith-based difference their spouse’s familial commitment.
“In listening to the happiest secular progressive wives and their religiously conservative counterparts, we noticed something they share in common: devoted family men,” the authors wrote in a New York Times op-ed accompanying the release of the study.
In a time where domestic abuse against women dominates news headlines and adults seems to be shifting away from marriage and parenthood, the study shows that religion is still a valuable relationship builder and moral guide.
“Faith may buffer against this post-familial turn, both by attaching particular meaning and importance to family life and by offering norms and networks that foster family solidarity,” the authors wrote in the introduction to the study.
“But these questions are also important given that religion may be a force for ill—legitimating gender inequality or violence in the family—a concern that has taken on particular salience in light of recent headlines about religion, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse.”