Marriage and religion have been bound together for years. Marriage ceremonies are, after all, done in churches, temples and other religious houses of worship, as a way of uniting couples.
And apparently it’s beneficial for the health of your relationship.
According to research published by the National Institutes of Health, marriage and religion, when mixed together, offer a massive amount of benefits for a person’s quality of life, including better physical health, longer life, economic success and more stability for children.
While this sounds great in abstract, it’s important to look at the specifics of how faith can help your marriage. Here are five big ways that being spiritual or believing in God can help you build a stronger relationship with your partner.
1. Praying increases commitment
According to a study from the Journal of Family Psychology, couples who pray for each other/ are more committed than those that don’t, showing that God and prayer can increase the commitment you have with your partner. The study looked at two groups of people — 316 college students in an exclusive relationship and 205 married black couples — and found those who participated in Partner-Focused Petitionary Prayer often felt more confident in their relationships and were more committed. “Together the studies suggest the value of continued investigation of PFPP as a potentially important vehicle for enhancing relationship outcomes,” the study said.
2. Religion keeps you kind
Couples who share religious intimacy with each other are often kinder to each other, according to a study from the Journal of Family Psychology.
The study looked at 81 heterosexual couples and found that when couples are more spiritually intimate with each other, they use kindness to tackle any negative conversations or conflicts, relieving their marriage of some damaging stresses.
And, as we’ve seen before, happiness, especially a woman’s, can keep her marriage together even during troubling times.
3. Religion keeps you happy
Columbia University published a study that found spirituality and religious practice keep people from becoming depressed. Those examined in the study who placed a higher value of religion also had a thicker cortex, which, when thin, is often linked to depression.
According to WebMD, depression is one of the major causes of divorce among American married couples. So just by praying a bit, science shows that you may be lessening your risk of getting depressed and, in turn, divorced.
4. The Bible has words of encouragement
Leah Perri of Deseret News National did a little digging earlier this month into the word of God and found a slew of quotes and passages that keep married couples happy and enthusiastic about their marriages. The quotes remind couples how powerful marriage can be and that patience and forgiveness are key ingredients to a successful married life, as Perri wrote. The Bible also encourages readers to stray away from temptations.
Perri also found that the Bible says sharing religion makes marriage happier and that readers should trust in the Lord above all others, which are certainly practices that married couples, especially ones with believers, can identify with.
And Christianity Today has a list of Bible stories that are about love and marriage, which also helps couples understand what they’re going through in their married lives.
5. Couples who share similar beliefs stay together longer
According to a study cited by The Washington Post, couples who pray together often stay together longer than those who don’t. Praying creates intimacy between partners since religion is such a personal issue for people. And when couples have similar spiritual beliefs, they often have similar ways of handling conflict and marital problems, which will keep them together longer, the Post reported. “Praying together as a couple is something that is very intimate for people who are religious,” family expert Brad Wilcox told The Washington Post. “It adds another level of closeness to a relationship.”