Life & Society

Survey Finds: Sex And Housework More Important Than Religion For Successful Marriage

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Religion appears to be a relatively minor factor in the way Americans choose their spouses, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

Although 44 per cent say that shared religious beliefs are "very important" for a successful marriage, considerably more respondents say that shared interests including a satisfying sexual relationship (63 per cent) and an equitable division of household chores (61 per cent) are crucial.

Of those who are currently married, 27 per cent say their spouse's religion was a "very important" factor in deciding whether to marry them. Meanwhile, one-in-five (21 per cent) say their spouse's religion was a "somewhat important" factor, while just over half (51 per cent) say their spouse's religion was "not too" or "not at all" important in deciding whether to get married.

Among those who are not currently married, only one-third say a potential spouse's religion would be a "very important" factor in deciding whether to marry that person.

Among those who are highly religious themselves, however, nearly two-thirds say shared religious beliefs are very important for a successful marriage. Half of highly religious unmarried adults say a potential spouse's religion would be a very important factor in deciding whether to marry.

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Separately, the survey founf that around one in five (21 per cent) of American adults were raised by parents who came from different religious traditions.

The study shows that roughly one-in-ten adults (nine per cent) say they were raised by two people who were religiously affiliated but with different religious backgrounds, such as a Protestant mother and a Catholic father, or a Jewish mother and a Protestant stepfather.

An additional 12 per cent say they were raised by one person who was religiously affiliated (with, for example, Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism or another religion) and another person who was religiously unaffiliated (atheist, agnostic or "nothing in particular").

However, religiously mixed backgrounds remain the exception in America. Roughly eight-in-ten US adults (79 per cent) say they were raised within a single religion, either by two parents who had the same faith or by a single parent.

The survey also found that people are most likely to identify in adulthood with the faith background with which they were brought up.

American adults are most likely to identify as religiously unaffiliated if they were raised exclusively by a parent or parents who were unaffiliated themselves.

At the same time, most people raised solely by Catholics (62 per cent) continue to identify as Catholics in adulthood, which is on par with the share of those raised solely by "nones" who remain religiously unaffiliated today.

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