At a time when American society has become less religious, many people still say that shared religious beliefs are an important ingredient for marital success. But married adults point to other factors, such as shared interests and even sharing household chores, as key to a successful marriage.
According to last report of the Pew Research Center Religious Landscape Study. It is perhaps unsurprising that nearly two-thirds of people married to someone same religious tradition (64%) are of this opinion, compared to only 24% of those who are married to someone affiliated with different religions and only 17% of those in marriages between a religiously affiliated spouse and an unaffiliated spouse.
But, overall, higher percentages of Americans rank other factors higher as key ingredients for a successful marriage. We asked respondents how important each of the seven factors (including shared religion) were to marital success. High on the list as important for adults in general are common interests, a satisfying sexual relationship, and sharing household chores.
Indeed, compared to those who value shared religious beliefs, significantly more married people (64%) say having common interests is very important to a successful marriage. Similarly, about six in ten married Americans (61%) say a satisfying sex life is very important. Even sharing household chores is seen as crucial by more married people (56%) than sharing religious beliefs.
Overall, a slightly lower proportion of married people say having children (43%) and having an adequate income (42%) are very important to marriage success than saying the same about being married. have common religious beliefs. Meanwhile, fewer people see agreement on politics (16%) as a necessary ingredient for a good marriage – a fact that can save more than a few marriages in a contentious election year (although another survey from the Pew Research Center found that most married Clinton and Trump supporters have spouses who share their candidate preference).
Although nearly half of married Americans say shared religious beliefs are very important to a successful marriage, far fewer (27%) say their spouse’s religion was a very important factor in deciding whom to marry. Another 21% say their spouse’s religion was “somewhat” important in their decision to marry.
Again, those who are married to someone from the same religious group are more likely than religiously married people to say that their spouse’s religious tradition was an important factor in their decision to marry them. A majority of those married to someone of the same faith say it was very (36%) or somewhat (26%) important to their choice, while most of those married to someone with a different religious identity (including people in marriages between a religiously affiliated person and a “non-religious person”) say that their spouse’s religion was not an important factor.
At least 84% of non-religious people who are married to others with no religious affiliation say their spouse’s faith was not important to them in choosing to marry, which makes sense given that only 16% married no’s to other no’s express the opinion that shared religious beliefs are very important for a successful marriage more generally.
david masci is a former religion writer/editor at the Pew Research Center.