Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

A Preliminary Investigation of the Relationship between Religion and Marital Adjustment among Christian Adults from a Conservative Denomination

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

A Preliminary Investigation of the Relationship between Religion and Marital Adjustment among Christian Adults from a Conservative Denomination

Article excerpt

In the current study, the author offered a preliminary exploration of the direct model of religion and marital adjustment among a sample of 116 married adults (58 married dyads) from a conservative Christian megachurch. Using the actor-partner interdependence model (APIM), preliminary results revealed several actor effects, with higher anxious and avoidant God attachment predicting lower marital adjustment, and higher horizontal and vertical faith maturity predicting higher marital adjustment. In addition, partner effects were observed, with higher anxious God attachment for one spouse predicting lower marital adjustment with his or her partner, and higher vertical faith maturity for one spouse predicting higher marital adjustment with his or her partner. Clinical implications are discussed, as are recommendations for future research in order to replicate and generalize these preliminary findings.

In the last several decades, researchers have increasingly investigated the link between religion and family functioning. In their meta-analysis of 94 empirical studies on religion and family functioning, Mahoney, Pargament, Tarakeshwar, and Swank (2008) found a small negative effect when exploring the relationship between religiousness and divorce. More specifically, the authors revealed that adults endorsing a particular religious affiliation were less likely to have experienced a divorce than individuals who reported no religion, and more frequent church attendance was negatively correlated with divorce occurance. In addition, the Mahoney et al. meta-analytic study elucidated that those who reported a religious connection endorsed a higher level of marital commitment than adults with no ties to a religion. Overall, their in-depth review of published empirical studies in the 1980s and 1990s illuminated a positive link between religion and marital adjustment, including divorce resiliency and marital commitment.

However, there were several major limitati1ons of the Mahoney et al. meta-analytic study. The authors noted that the majority of studies reviewed utilized global, single-item measures of religious functioning, which prevented the researchers from understanding the specific mechanisms of action (e.g., beliefs, behaviors) within religion that impact marital life. In addition, only 26% of the studies on marriage and religion included an item on denominational affiliation, which restricted their ability to better understand the unique contributing factors that specific religious beliefs and behaviors play in influencing marriage. Relatedly, over half of the studies relied on national surveys. Although this is definitely a strength in most studies, heterogenious samples of religious adults may have prevented the researchers from better understanding the nuances of particular religious groups that impact marriage. Finally, although one reviewed study utilized an eightitem measure of religious "devoutness," none of the studies on religion and marriage employed standardized measures of religious orthodoxy or conservatism in order to assess the degree to which traditional or conservative religious beliefs influence marital adjustment.

In a follow-up study, Mahoney (2010) reviewed studies published from 1999 to 2009 on religion and family functioning, highlighting that a higher frequency of church attendance was linked to a lower divorce rate. Still, her review of several longitudinal studies elucidated mixed results, with psychological functioning determining whether or not religiousness predicted marital satisfaction. In another reviewed study, Mahoney noted a positive correlation between global religiousness and marital functioning for women, but not men. Based on her investigation of a plethora of studies on religion and family functioning, Mahoney concluded that "higher general religiousness helps to form (e.g., marital unions) and maintain (e.g., lowers divorce risk) traditional family bonds" (p. 18). Yet, Mahoney cautioned that additional research must focus on the unique, rather than global, features of religion that impact family adjustment. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.