The rate of divorce is no longer increasing in the United States (except among those who are 65 and older) but the rate is still high enough to maintain a sense of panic among some observers. Many solutions have been proposed for strengthening marriage. In one of them, couples commit to a more demanding form of marriage called “covenant marriage.”
Covenant marriages are available in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona. Couples who sign onto covenant marriages must:
If you read my previous post, you already know how the study was conducted. A total of 707 couples from Louisiana – 307 of whom were in covenant marriages – were surveyed within a few months of the wedding, then again about 21 months later and then about six years after the first contact. So the couples were followed for a total of about seven years, and the husbands and wives answered questions separately. (These were all hetero marriages.) Each time, the participants were asked how satisfied they were with their marriage overall, as well as with regard to love, physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, conflict resolution, fairness, quality of communication, and finances.
So were couples in covenant marriages more satisfied with their marriages at the outset than couples in garden variety marriages? No, they were not. There were no differences in overall satisfaction.
In my last post, I noted that on the average, the 707 marriages became less satisfying over time, and that for wives, marriages become unsatisfying sooner than they do for husbands. That was true for covenant marriages too. There were some hints that for men in covenant marriages, participating in premarital counseling may have been helpful, but “any such benefit for husbands is miniscule at best.”
The analyses of changes in satisfaction over time included only those couples who stayed together the whole time. Even so, the importance of the type of marriage (covenant vs. ordinary) for marital satisfaction was “far outweighed” by factor such as doubts about whether the partner really was the right person and the other risk factors I described in my last post.
DeMaris, A., Sanchez, L. A., & Krivickas, K. (2012). Developmental patterns in marital satisfaction: Another look at covenant marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74, 989-1004.
Wedding photo available from Shutterstock
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Last reviewed: 21 Oct 2012