Religious compatibility isn’t a top-of-mind concern for many relationship seekers, who are often more focused on finding someone who likes the same television shows or outdoor activities. But while avoiding deep discussions about the value of prayer or arguments over the pope’s latest proclamation may seem expedient on the dating scene, couples can struggle in the long term if they don’t discuss faith from the start, according to recent research on religion and romance. The religious beliefs partners bring to a relationship affect how conflicts play out and the faith lives of their future children.
Here are the tips that you can apply in your relationship to stay faithful in your religion.
Drawing on shared beliefs
Religiously matched couples can draw on resources that would not exist without that spiritual bone during times of conflict or stress.
For example, they might choose to pause an argument to pray together, which many religion researchers describe as a valuable way to address hurt feelings.
“The best religious predictor of being happy in a relationship is praying together as a couple,” said Brad Wilcox, who authored a recent analysis on minority couples and religion, to Christianity Today. “Taking your faith directly into the domestic sphere seems to reap real benefits for black and Latino couples.”
Earlier studies support his conclusion, showing that joint prayer e
nables couples to focus on shared needs, rather than individual concerns.
A strong religious foundation can also sustain relationships through dark periods, such as the aftermath of an affair, as the Deseret News reported in September. Couples who believe their connection is sanctified or centered on God, seem to have more success than other pairings in overcoming these difficult situations.
“Couples who believe in sanctification share a sense of purpose that goes beyond shared hobbies, self-interest (and) procreation,” the article said, paraphrasing Christopher Ellison, a distinguished professor of sociology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “The couple may believe that God has a mission for their marriage, and perhaps even brought them together.”
In general, shared religious beliefs enable couples to comfortably bring religion into their relationship, facilitating conversations that are more difficult for others.
Navigating religious tension
People who feel awkward sharing their religious experiences with their spouse may struggle to stay connected to their own spirituality, Pew reported. Adults in religiously matched marriages are more likely to believe in God, say religion is important to them, attend worship services regularly and pray more frequently than their peers in religiously mixed marriages.
Being spiritually open and honest
New parents who were able to share their beliefs with their spouses in a way that enabled them to see each other as “soul mates” were more likely to work through conflicts in a positive manner. “Our findings suggest that greater spiritual intimacy offers couples a spiritual resource to motivate them to remain kind and resist the urge to ‘go negative’ when they discuss their core conflicts,” researchers from Bowling Green State University reported. “Spiritual intimacy appears to be one unique resource that motivates some spouses to preserve and protect their marriage when they become first-time parents together.”
Walking the walk of faith
In the case of one of the biggest marriage killers, infidelity, individuals are more likely to be faithful when they are influenced by their religious beliefs in deciding when and whom to marry. But only if they also have a strong degree of personal religiosity, according to a study analyzing data from the Portraits of American Life Study. Cheating “is likely to be especially taboo when religion is a central foundation of behavior in daily life,” said researchers from the University of Calgary.
In every relationship, there might be hurdles and obstacles that we may encounter but we need to be firm and tighten our compassion with each other because at the end of the acceptance each other’s differences we make your relationship better.