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For Your Marriage

Marriage Today covers current trends and research pertaining to marriage and family life in today's world.

What is the Key to a Successful Marriage?

At one point in time, shared religious beliefs may have been the center and key to a healthy, fruitful marriage. But many of today’s married couples say other factors are more integral to a happy marriage.

Recently, the Pew Research Center published an article about what is most important for a successful marriage. About half (47%) of married adults classified shared religious beliefs as “very important”; couples who share the same religious views were the most likely to say this.

Overall, however, shared religion is considerably less important to married Americans than other factors. The most important of these is shared interests, with 64% of those surveyed citing this as “very important,” followed by a satisfying sexual relationship at 61% and even sharing household chores at 56%. Having children and having an adequate income were less crucial than shared religious belief, with 43% and 42% of adults citing these factors, respectively. The lowest factor was that of alignment of political beliefs.

While religious beliefs may be important to the success of a marriage, only 27% said that their spouse’s religion was “very important” when deciding whom to marry. Out of those married, 36% said that faith was a very important factor in their choice. On the other end of the spectrum, the vast majority (84%) of religious “nones” (no religious affiliation) said that their spouse’s religion was unimportant to their choice to wed them, with only 16% of married “nones” citing shared faith (that is, both spouses identifying as religiously unaffiliated) as very important to marital success.

People with the same beliefs tend to attract each other; if a personal faith is taken seriously, expectations for a marriage partner may mirror that.

About the Author

Caty Long is a first year Master of Theological Studies student at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute and currently an intern for the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth at the USCCB.