sexual satisfaction, relationship quality, gender, religiosity


In this essay, we explore the links between religion and relationship quality for cohabiting and married couples. Our evidence from an 11-country sample suggests men and women in highly religious couples enjoy significantly higher levels of relationship quality and sexual satisfaction. Joint decision-making, however, is higher among men in shared secular relationships and women in highly religious relationships, compared to their peers in less/mixed religious couples. We also find a J-Curve in overall relationship quality for women such that women in shared secular, progressive relationships enjoy comparatively high levels of relationship quality, women in the ideological and religious middle report lower levels of relationship quality, and women in highly religious relationships, especially traditionalists, report the highest levels of relationship quality. Our results suggest that the association between gender ideology and relationship quality varies by religiosity.

Original Publication Citation

Carroll, J. S., & James, S., Wilcox, W. B., Reeves, R., & DeRose, L. (2019). Faith, Feminism, and Marriage: Institutions, Norms, and Relationship Quality. Chapter in Wilcox, W. B, DeRose, L., & Carroll, J. S. (2019). The Ties That Bind: Is Faith a Global Force for Good or Ill in the Family? A commissioned report sponsored by the Institute for Family Studies and the Wheatley Institution.

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Institute for Family Studies




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

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Full Professor