Home»Commentary»Catholic Family Fuel: The key elements of a happy union

Catholic Family Fuel: The key elements of a happy union

0
Shares
Pinterest Google+

May 1, 2012

By Sean Reynolds

“The State of our Unions” is the title of a December 2011 research report from the National Marriage Project of the Institute for American Values and the University of Virginia. The researchers set out to answer these three questions: “Is it emotionally easier to parent alone in a world in which a good marriage seems increasingly out of reach? Is parenthood itself an obstacle to a good marriage? What are the social, cultural, and relational sources of marital success among today’s parents?”

 

According to the study, the top five predictors of marital satisfaction for married mothers are above-average (1) sexual satisfaction, (2) commitment, (3) generosity to spouse, (4) attitude toward raising children, and (5) social support.

 

The top five predictors of marital satisfaction for married fathers are above-average (1) sexual satisfaction, (2) commitment, (3) generosity to spouse, (4) attitude toward raising children, and (5) marital spirituality shared by both spouses.

 

The top five factors that minimize the likelihood of separation or divorce for married mothers are above-average (1) commitment, (2) sexual satisfaction, (3) marital spirituality shared by both spouses, (4) social support, and (5) marital spirituality of wife.

 

The top five factors that minimize the likelihood of separation or divorce for married fathers are above-average (1) commitment, (2) sexual satisfaction, (3) marital spirituality shared by both spouses, (4) attendance at religious services weekly or more often, and (5) generosity to wife.

 

The genius of this research is in the clarity it offers to married parents. Let’s look at some of the key elements:

• Sexual Satisfaction: It turns out that “What happens outside of the bedroom seems to matter a great deal in predicting how happy husbands and wives are with what happens in the bedroom.”

• Generosity: The study defines generosity as “the virtue of giving good things to one’s spouse freely and abundantly” and it found a powerful correlation between this quality in a couple and the satisfaction they share with their marriage.

• Commitment: It’s a powerful indicator and predictor of marital success, defined as “the extent to which spouses see their relationship in terms of “we” versus “me.”

• Religion and Marital Spirituality: Shared religious attendance increases marital satisfaction and decreases divorce-proneness. The authors speculate that it is “a solidifying force for marriage in a world in which family life is increasingly fragile.”

• Fathers and faith: Some no doubt will be surprised to learn that for fathers marital spirituality is one of the top five predictors of marital happiness.

 

So, is it emotionally easier to parent alone in a world in which a good marriage seems increasingly out of reach? The study found that ‘’parents who are married generally experience more happiness and less depression than parents who are unmarried.

 

Yet many did not, so what’s their secret? It turns out that the potent mix of generosity, commitment, and social support from extended family and friends, along with shared religious faith — all closely linked to sexual satisfaction — lead to happy marriages and strong, stable families.

 

So, is parenthood itself an obstacle to a good marriage? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that it can be if those other vital elements are absent from the marriage and family.

 

For more information, go to http://www.stateofourunions.org.

Sean Reynolds is director of the archdiocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

Previous post

Partnership unites parishes in social action

Next post

Seeking an answer to the question, “Now what?”

1 Comment