Do members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have unique marital patterns? Which ones come to your mind? A recent study was done and it turns out that these unique patterns have made Latter-day Saint marriages more successful than others. Let’s dive in!
What makes us unique?
The study I’m referring to was done by BYU Studies. They knew from previous research that religious beliefs and practices lead to a higher quality of life. However, they wanted to find out specifics in regards to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even more specifically, they wondered about the effects of our religion on marriages.
In comparison to other religions, our doctrine is unique. We believe marriage and family to be “central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” We also believe in heavenly parents (meaning that marriage is an element of godhood).
Thanks to the plan of salvation, the priesthood, and the sealing power, we believe that marriage lasts beyond death. Families can be together forever and a temple marriage is a requirement for eternal life.
Because of the deep importance of temple marriage, we also emphasize temple worthiness. For example, members of the Church are expected to abstain from sex before marriage. Temple recommend questions ensure that all temple patrons are living Christlike lives.
About the Study
We are interested in exploring how the relational nature of LDS theology and rituals might manifest themselves in the lived relationships of LDS adherents.
With all of these unique factors in Latter-day Saint relationships, researchers wanted to know how they manifest themselves. They desired to look deeper into attitudes, decision making, relational satisfaction, and stability.
In order to inspect the differences in relationships, they began by comparing active members of the Church to less-active members. Next, they compared both of those groups to Catholics and Protestants. Lastly, they included two groups of “unaffiliated individuals” including a highly religious group and a less religious group.
Our general expectation is that there would likely be little or no differences between these religious groups for typical individual nonrelational variables such as self-esteem but that for more relationally oriented values, decisions, and behaviors, there might be significant differences between the Latter-day Saint group and other religious groups as well as those who are not religious.
So, what did they find?
First, the researchers touched on self-esteem. Being religiously active shows higher levels of self-esteem! I know that I have seen this in my own life. When I drift away from Heavenly Father, I feel my self-image drop. Have you felt the same?
When it comes to attitudes, it became obvious that members of the Church “value marriage significantly more than even the highly religious members of the other religious denominations.” Even when these Latter-day Saints are less-active, they still highly value marriage. I think this is so interesting!
Communication also seems to be more effective in Latter-day Saint marriages. Active members have high levels of emotional connection with their spouses in comparison to other groups. I wonder if this has anything to do with things like Come, Follow Me that prompt emotional/spiritual discussions?
What do the findings mean?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also a “strict church” or a “high demand faith” that asks much of adherents—particularly in the areas of marriage and family life.
Chastity before marriage, generally more traditional gender roles, unity in marriage, a larger than average number of children, high levels of involvement in the congregation, and other factors combine to impact active Latter-day Saints.
Though this higher level of demand could be seen as detrimental, research indicates that it actually correlates with normal to higher levels of mental health, higher levels of adolescent well-being, greater marital stability, and other personal and relational benefits.
While some outsiders may say that our religious beliefs are too intense, science doesn’t lie. I think that Matthew 7 is correct when it says that “by their fruits ye shall know them.” I am grateful for the many blessings Heavenly Father pours upon those that live His commandments!
Members of the Church really do benefit from the unique doctrines and practices we have. They had more positive attitudes and marital stability. While no relationship is perfect, we can find greater happiness as we live the gospel in our marriage and families.
Did they find anything negative?
Actually, yes they did. “Latter-day Saints who struggle to adhere to the religion may be more vulnerable to relationship distress and poorer outcomes,” said the researchers. For some reason, members of our church put unnecessary pressure on themselves to seem perfect. When we aren’t adhering to the “norm,” we’re more stressed out.
If you find yourself in this situation, please ask for help. Perfection won’t happen right now! It’s difficult, but you can get support. I’ve written another article about this subject that’s great if you struggle with perfectionism. And maybe your idea of what perfection entails is just incorrect. Here’s a clearer idea of the ideal of perfection.
Maybe you don’t deal with this stress, but know others who are. Please be patient and kind to others. Don’t be quick to judge. Our church community should be one of love and respect. As we lean on each other, we will find joy and peace!
Perhaps if we supplemented the true doctrines and practices with relationship science about normal human and relationship development, managing stress and conflict, and developing intimacy, we might give our community more practical approaches to relationships, just like exercise and nutritional science could help us have a better chance of getting and staying physically healthy.
In addition, we would find out, much like many of us have discovered in regard to our physical health, that as a condition of mortality, even when we follow the best practices, some of us will still get chronic or fatal diseases. Then we might be more inclined to avoid judging one another as to why we are sick or infirm and instead support and help one another along the way.
I appreciate the thoughts of these researchers. “Some of us will still get chronic or fatal diseases” when it comes to marriage. My parents were sealed in the temple. However, they still got a divorce. These circumstances won’t disappear anytime soon.
However, this article helped me realize the importance of living the gospel and how doing so will strengthen my relationship with my husband. I know that as we strive to be strict and obedient in following the commandments, we will be blessed with a beautiful marriage.
I am so happy to be led by prophets and apostles in these modern days. Listening to their teachings will improve Latter-day Saint marriages as well. I wish you all the best as you apply their words and work every day to become more Christlike with your spouse!
What aspects of gospel living bring you and your spouse closer together? We would love to hear your opinion about Latter-day Saint marriages in the comments below!