, Volume 43, Issue 7, pp 1403-1415
Date: 05 Mar 2014

Conservative Christianity, Partnership, Hormones, and Sex in Late Life

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Abstract

Using nationally representative data from the 2005–2006 U.S. National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, this study queried relationship, sexual, and sex hormone patterns among married evangelical women and men aged 57–85, relative to those in other religions. Results suggested that despite potentially more unequal gender roles, evangelical older women may have better marital quality, perhaps due to the recent transformation of their male counterparts into authoritative, yet-supportive, “soft patriarchs.” Correspondingly, these women, especially those with greater subjective religiosity or more support from a spouse, reported consistently better sexual outcomes than their counterparts in other religions. In addition, they also had lower estradiol, whether due to psychobiological effects of their better relationships or self-selection of those with differential hormone levels into particular partnership patterns. While older men in these communities also experienced more satisfactory marriages, and had lower androgens (testosterone, DHEA), their relational assets were less uniformly matched by better sexual outcomes, perhaps reflecting a gender disparity in the linkage between these factors.