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A Match Made in Heaven? Religion-Based Marriage Decisions, Marital Quality, and the Moderating Effects of Spouse’s Religious Commitment

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Studies examining the persistent link between religion and martial quality have focused exclusively on religion’s within-marriage influence on spousal attitudes and behaviors. The current study shifts the focus to examine how religion’s influence on pre-marital choices holds potential returns to marital quality, and under what conditions of spousal religiosity. Utilizing data from the 2006 Portraits of American Life Study, I examine how several key measures of marriage quality are affected by religious influences on the marriage decision; the religious commitment of one’s spouse; and interactions between these two factors. Multivariate analyses reveal that religion’s influence on the marriage decision does not directly predict respondents’ relationship-satisfaction or their spouse’s loving or hurtful behaviors, while the importance of religion to one’s spouse is strongly associated with all these marital outcomes. Interaction effects reveal that spouse’s religiosity does not greatly influence marital quality among persons whose marriage decision was uninfluenced by religion. However, among persons for whom religion figured prominently in their marriage decision, those with less-religious spouses experienced negative marital outcomes, while those with more-religious spouses reported positive marital outcomes. Pre-marriage religious influences thus predict higher marital quality under the conditions that persons for whom religion greatly influenced their marriage-decision are able to marry religiously-committed spouses.

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The author wishes to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their helpful recommendations. The author also wishes to thank Jill Perry for her support.

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Correspondence to Samuel L. Perry.

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Perry, S.L. A Match Made in Heaven? Religion-Based Marriage Decisions, Marital Quality, and the Moderating Effects of Spouse’s Religious Commitment. Soc Indic Res 123, 203–225 (2015).

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  • Religion
  • Marital quality
  • Marriage
  • Relationships
  • Satisfaction
  • Mate selection
  • Conflict