No kidding! Print
By W. Bradford Wilcox   
Wednesday, 01 September 2010
How and why might religious involvement be linked to relationship quality? Previous research on religion and relationship quality suggests that family-centered norms and social networks associated with religious congregations, along with the subjective well-being fostered by religious belief, help to account for the association between religion and higher-quality relationships. First, religious communities typically promote generic norms – such as the Golden Rule – and relationship-specific norms – such as forgiveness – that help to define appropriate marital and relationship conduct, encourage partners to fulfill their familial roles and
responsibilities, and handle conflict in a constructive manner . Second, family-centered social networks found in religious communities offer formal and informal support to couples and families – from financial help to models of healthy relationships – that can help couples navigate the challenges of married or romantic life. These networks also tend to lend explicit or implicit support to conventional and religiously-grounded norms about appropriate relationship conduct – such as sexual fidelity. Third, subjective religious belief seems to provide people with a sense of purpose and meaning about life in general and their relationship in particular. This general sense of purpose and meaning is valuable as a buffer against the stresses that can harm relationships. For all these reasons, religious persons may enjoy higher-quality relationships.