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Keywords:

  • covenant marriage;
  • growth-curve analysis;
  • marital satisfaction;
  • marital trajectories;
  • religiousness;
  • sex role traditionalism

This study investigated differences in the trajectory of marital satisfaction in the first 7 years between couples in covenant versus standard marriages. The authors analyzed data on 707 Louisiana marriages from the Marriage Matters Panel Survey of Newlywed Couples, 1998–2004, using multivariate longitudinal growth modeling. When the sample was restricted to couples who remained married over the duration of the study, a marginal benefit of covenant status was found for husbands. This effect was largely accounted for by covenant husbands' more extensive exposure to premarital counseling. The linear decline in marital satisfaction over time that obtained for both husbands and wives was not, however, any different for covenant marriages versus standard marriages. Couples characterized by more traditional attitudes toward gender roles were significantly less satisfied than others. High premarital risk factors, initial uncertainty about marrying the spouse, and the presence of preschool-age children in the household were all corrosive of marital satisfaction at any given time.