The Couple that Prays Together

Dr. David Stoop was one of my favorite people on the planet. He passed away in March of 2021. As with this blog post, he was incredibly helpful when it comes to healthy relationships.

The Couple That Prays Together

I want to report the results of a fascinating research project led by Christopher Ellison at the University of Texas, San Antonio. and reported in the “Journal of Marriage and Family.”  But first, I want to look back to the late l980’s when the Gallup people did a similar study on how personal faith impacted marital satisfaction. The results of that study were reported in a book written by a priest named Andrew Greeley.  It was titled Faithful Attraction.

One of the outcomes of that study led to the National Association of Marriage Enhancement, in Phoenix, Arizona to report that when couples prayed together on a daily basis, less than 1% of those couples would end up getting a divorce. The numbers were 1 out of 1156.  Pretty amazing when the divorce rate in the general population is reportedly around 50%.

Now there is this new study that goes even further than just looking at couples praying together. Ellison and his associates included race and ethnicity as factors and focused on working-age adults. And they looked at four things:

1. The effect of a couple belonging to the same denomination

2. Their attending religious services together

3. Shared beliefs and values

4. What they did at home in the way of worship activities.

The study looked at 1387 couples with an over-representation of ethnic minorities. The results were stated in terms of marital satisfaction. Some of their findings were to be expected. Those couples who shared the same faith, and who regularly attended church services together, reported a higher level of marital satisfaction. Those who were involved in activities at the church also reported an even higher level of marital satisfaction.

The most interesting finding to me was that when couples shared religious practices at home, which included reading the Bible together and praying together, the level of marital satisfaction was even significantly higher.  Those shared behaviors in the home had a strong impact on how satisfied each was with their marriage.  The strength of those statistics on shared religious practices were strong enough that the researchers also believed that if couples would share these practices in their home, those behaviors could be seen as predictors of a strong marriage, and obviously a higher degree of marital satisfaction.

Unfortunately, not very many Christian couples read the Bible together or pray together.  The number I’ve heard is that only about 4% of Christian couples pray together on a daily basis.  The reason might be related to the fact that not many Pastoral couples pray together daily.  Their percentage is only about 6%. But the important takeaway from both this study and the Gallup study is that if you want to strengthen your marriage–and even “divorce-proof” your marriage–develop a consistent pattern of reading the Bible together and praying together in your home.

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Dr. David Stoop

David Stoop, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in California. He received a master's in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and a doctorate from the University of Southern California. He is the founder and director of the Center for Family Therapy, in Newport Beach, California. David is also an adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary and serves on the executive board of the American Association of Christian Counselors. David is a Gold Medallion-winning author and has written more than twenty-five books.

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