With survey trends showing strong adherence to faith seemingly on a collective decline in America, there’s some data about church attendance that people might want to pay close attention to.
Research from experts at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has yielded data indicating that attendance at religious services is associated with less risk for divorce, depression and death. Thus, there seems to be an intricate tie between church attendance and overall good health and well-being.
As for divorce, past research has found that married couples who attend religious services are between 30 to 50 percent less likely to get divorced than those who don’t attend. And Tyler J. VanderWeele, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, recently wrote a piece for the Family Studies blog stating that, in his research, “those who attended religious services were 47 percent less likely to subsequently divorce.”
“Our study consisted only of women, but other studies have looked at both men and women, and the results are once again similar,” VanderWeele wrote. “Our study also focused on middle-aged and older women, but again, other studies have examined younger men and women with similar results.”
He continued, “The effects of religious attendance on divorce seem to be fairly widely applicable.”
VanderWeele then pondered the reasons why attending religious services appears helpful in preventing divorce, presenting the “logical possibilities” that he said should be investigated further, including the idea that religion tends to elevate marriage as a “sacred bond” — an idea that churches reinforce.
Then, there’s the religious chastisements that sometimes come as a result of divorce, with religious teachings precluding — barring certain conditions — the ending of a marriage. And with that in mind, there’s also the idea that churches and religious groups can help provide family services, including counseling, that might help keep divorce at bay.
But then there’s a broader element worth considering: the notion that church attendance also helps instill life meaning, greater happiness and a lower risk of depression which can, in turn, help marital contentedness, as VanderWeele noted.
“Religion might be understood as the pursuit of complete human well-being: physical, mental, social, and spiritual,” he wrote. “Religion is about both communion with God and the restoration of all people to their intended state of complete wholeness and well-being. The evidence suggests that it can indeed accomplish both.”
Again, past studies have shown the benefits of couples going to church together. One such study from the Institute for Family Studies Research found that prayer is a powerful tool, finding that couples who pray together are 17 percent more likely to say they are happy. Additionally, 78 percent of couples who attend church are either “very” or “extremely” happy in their marriages.
Past studies have also shown that married people are less likely to struggle health problems involving the heart or blood vessels.
(H/T: Family Studies)
Other Must-Read Stories: