New study: regular churchgoers and married people most satisfied with their love life

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

One of the curious things about me is that I love to read studies in order to understand what to do in order to reach a goal. So, I read a lot of studies on marriage, finances, and moral issues. My goal is to find the “best practices” that predict good outcomes. One of the things that we should all be concerned about is having a good love life. Well, believe it or not, there are studies about how to achieve this. One of them just came out in Science Daily.

Consider this article from Science Daily.


Regular churchgoers, married people or those who enjoy harmonious social ties are most satisfied with their love life. This also goes for people who are currently in love or who experience the commitment and sexual desire of their partners, says Félix Neto and Maria da Conceição Pinto of the Universidade do Porto in Portugal. Their findings, published in an article in Springer’s journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, look at the influences on love life satisfaction throughout one’s adult life.

The researchers associate love with the desire to enter into, maintain, or expand a close, connected, and ongoing relationship with another person. In turn, love life satisfaction is a purely subjective, overall measurement of someone’s actual enjoyment of love. To investigate the factors that influence this across various age groups, 1,284 adult Portuguese women and men ranging between 18 and 90 years old were asked to evaluate and weigh specific facets of their own love lives by using the Satisfaction With Love Life Scale.

[…]While education does not impact a person’s love life satisfaction, religious involvement does. The finding that believers and regular churchgoers are positive about their love lives is in line with previous studies that associate religious involvement with better mental health and greater satisfaction with life and sexual relationships in general.

Previously, I blogged about a study reported in USA Today, which showed that people who attend church have lower divorce rates than those who don’t attend church.


It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years — Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America.

But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely to remain wed.

[…]The various findings on religion and divorce hinge on what kind of Christians are being discussed.

Wright combed through the General Social Survey, a vast demographic study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42%. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50%.

When Wright examined the statistics on evangelicals, he found worship attendance has a big influence on the numbers. Six in 10 evangelicals who never attend had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38% of weekly attendees.

[…]Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, agrees there’s been some confusion.

“You do hear, both in Christian and non-Christian circles, that Christians are no different from anyone else when it comes to divorce and that is not true if you are focusing on Christians who are regular church attendees,” he said.

Wilcox’s analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households has found that Americans who attend religious services several times a month were about 35% less likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.

Nominal conservative Protestants, on the other hand, were 20% more likely to divorce than the religiously unaffiliated.

“There’s something about being a nominal ‘Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life,” Wilcox said.

Whenever I talk to atheists about marital satisfaction and marital stability, they always tell me these myths about how atheists divorce less and are happier in their marriages than religious people. But when I ask them for studies, they don’t have any, or they start to talk about the Discovery Channel or Star Trek or something. It’s like they believe things without any evidence at all. Meanwhile, one also has to note that atheists have much lower rates of marriage than church-attending believers.

Now clearly, there are going to be atheists with great marriages that never break up. But individual cases do not overturn peer-reviewed research studies. The fact is that marriage is an institution that is soaked through with moral values and moral obligations. If you think that morality is just arbitrary customs and conventions that vary by time and place, as is logically consistent with atheism, then the odds are that you won’t be able to stay married for long – if you even get married at all.

3 thoughts on “New study: regular churchgoers and married people most satisfied with their love life”

  1. Well, it seems to me that, if we take the divorce rate of the church going Christians and the rate of the nominal Christians, you would have a pretty hefty divorce rate.
    I know a quantity of Church goers who are cohabiting. They seem just as happy as the rest of the flock!
    Besides, if I remember correctly, isn’t Wilcox one of those man bashers
    who misinterprets Ephesians 5:23!
    FIX Christianity, then maybe things will work out better!!!!!!


    1. Apparently, there are two significant people named “Brad Wilcox”:
      W. Bradford (“Brad”) Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project,
      Bradley R. Wilcox (re:, a BYU Religion professor and a member of the LDS.

      The former did a paper with Steven L. Nock which you can find here:

      Their methodology is a bit rough (e.g., “1-39 hours of work per week” = part-time)

      Here are some fun snippets from their results:

      “Model 1 indicates that wives who hold egalitarian gender attitudes, who work part-time, and who take a larger share of the family bread-winning responsibilities are less happy. Thus, none of the effects in Model 1 are in keeping with the companionate model’s expectation that egalitarianism in practice and belief is associated with higher levels of women’s marital quality”

      “Women who share high levels of church attendance and normative commitment with their husbands are happier than their peers. Wives’ greater happiness when their husbands share their own commitment to marriage may indicate that shared commitment promotes trust and a sense of relational security.”

      “Model 3 provides support for the equity model of marriage insofar as women who report that the division of household labor is unfair are significantly less happy in their marriages than women who report that the division of household labor is fair. Moreover, Model 3 further reduces the effect of gender role ideology; it also reduces the effect of part-time work to insignificance. However, it increases the negative effect of male household labor. This suggests that women who are not concerned about the fairness of household labor are less happy when their husbands do more housework.”

      (Of course, there may be some bias by some women who think they have an unfair amount of household chores. As well, women who work more also have less time for housework and child care [and they find more satisfaction in doing housework than men do] i.e., — and thus may be more stressed about balancing everything.)

      “…women who live in marriages characterized by less gendered patterns of earning and housework are less happy in their marriages.”

      “…men’s positive marital emotion work, and women’s satisfaction with
      that work, are significant predictors of women’s marital quality… Wives’ marital happiness and their happiness with the affection and understanding they receive from their husbands are very strongly related… This means that women’s assessments of men’s love, affection and understanding (and to a lesser degree, men’s quality time) is by far the most powerful predictor of women’s marital quality in our models, which include a range of potential factors that might influence women’s marital quality.”

      “But the most striking finding in this table is found in Model 3, where women’s perceptions of equity in the division of household labor are strongly related to men’s reports of quality time. This finding is striking because we would expect to find that the equity model helps to account
      for women’s assessments of men’s emotion work, as it does in Table 3, but not the actual emotion work that men do. Specifically, men who are married to women who report unfairness in the division of household labor spend less quality time with their wives than men whose wives report that the housework is “fair to both” husband and wife. This finding suggests one of two conclusions: first, women who are not happy with the division of household labor – and probably the level of equality in their marriages more generally – may enter into conflict with their husbands or disengage emotionally from their marriages in ways that suppress their husbands’ emotion work; alternatively, women who are not happy with the division of household labor may have higher expectations of marital equality and male emotion work that lead them to enter into conflict with their husbands or to disengage emotionally from their marriages in ways that cause husbands to decrease the time they spend with their wives. In any case, the consistent predictive power of equity across both measures of men’s marital emotion work strongly suggests that perceptions of housework fairness, and marital equality in general, are intimately bound up with the health of “her” marriage.”


      1. Thank you for quoting these, and I find it fascinating that women want what will not make them happy. That’s a dangerous situation for men, in a world of no fault divorce and anti-male divorce courts.


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