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Happily Ever After?: Religion, Marital Status, Gender and Relationship Quality in Urban Families

From: Social Forces
Volume 86, Number 3, March 2008
pp. 1311-1337 | 10.1353/sof.0.0023



Researchers have found that religious participation is correlated with marital satisfaction. Less is known about whether religion also benefits participants in nonmarital, intimate relationships or whether religious effects on relationships vary by gender. Using data from the first three waves of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, we find that religious participation by fathers, irrespective of marital status, is consistently associated with better relationships among new parents in urban America; however, mothers' participation is not related to relationship quality. These results suggest that religious effects vary more by gender than by marital status. We conclude that men's investments in relationships appear to depend more on the institutional contexts of those relationships, such as participation in formal religion.

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