An interesting group of studies just came out that probably wont surprise many religious people.
As published on the American Psychological Associations website, religion or spirituality is a good thing for relationships and healthy kids. Notably, partners who pray for each other hold a greater sense of commitment, and kids who go to religious services are more likely to feel greater well-being.
These are interesting studies, but one has to ask correlation or causation here in these findings? Does praying for your partner actually cause you to be more committed, or do committed people (who pray) regularly pray for their partners? Either way, the links among relationships, psychology, religion, and spirituality are all closely intertwined. All of these are functions of what makes us who we are, and are high consciousness level activities.
What is Relational Spirituality?
From the article linked above:
The ways that diverse couples and families can rely on specific spiritual beliefs and behaviors, for better or worse, to motivate them to create, maintain and transform their intimate relationships
Summaries of the Recent Studies:
Mothers and Grandmothers Run the Show
Mothers have the most consistently positive influence on the religious lives of their children “because they are socialized to transmit critical values, beliefs and practices across generations, and because they embrace norms of femininity that reinforce such roles.” Additionally, grandparents — especially grandmothers — play a significant role in the religious socialization of grandchildren
Religion Lowers Stress
Low-income African-American women who were primary caregivers of children between 8 and 12 and lived in disorderly neighborhoods experienced lower levels of parenting stress if they exhibited existential and/or religious well-being
Bring Your Kids to Church
Attending religious services with a parent or parents in late childhood is associated with greater psychological well-being as children age
Religion Can Help Keep Your Kid Off Drugs
Adolescents with access to religious resources are less likely to engage in substance abuse when coping with harsh parenting and poor self-control
Religion Helps Us Cope
Youths who had stronger relationships with God were less likely to suffer from internalizing adjustment problems, but only if their mothers used more religious coping
Pray for Your Partner
“Partner-focused petitionary prayer” (PFPP), in which one partner prays for the well-being of his or her romantic partner, increases the level of commitment to the relationship experienced by the praying partner
Share Your Spiritual Beliefs
The more spiritual intimacy couples say they share, the better they handle their top three topics of conflict, according to this study. Additionally, couples who viewed their marriage as sacred had more positive marital interactions. Couples’ ratings of their spiritual intimacy were based on how often they revealed their spiritual beliefs, questions and doubts to each other, and listened supportively to each other’s spiritual disclosures
View Your Marriage as Special
Among older couples (average age 71), the perceived sanctity of their long-term unions predicted both husbands’ and wives’ marital satisfaction, according to this study. When wives reported that they viewed their marriage as suffused with sacred qualities, this tended to predict that both spouses would say they were more satisfied. The authors theorize that compassionate love may provide the motivation for couples to genuinely care for each other while minimizing the emotional costs traditionally associated with providing high levels of caregiving later in life
Should you now go join your closest religions organization if you want to improve your relationships? Honestly, its probably worth looking into. Just because there are negative aspects to religion and spirituality doesnt mean there isnt some gold there too.