Marital Well-being and Religiousness as Mediated by Relational Virtue and Equality


  • College of Public Health and Human Sciences, 470 Waldo Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-5102.

  • This article was edited by Deborah Carr.

School of Family Life, 2092B JFBS, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602 (


This study investigated religiousness and couple well-being as mediated by relational virtue and equality. Relational spiritual framework theory posits that religiousness is associated with couple well-being through relational virtues (e.g., forgiveness, commitment, and sacrifice). Theories of relational inequality postulate that religion decreases couple well-being and indirectly lessens couple well-being. Data from a 3-year longitudinal community sample of 354 married couples were used. The authors found that religiousness's relationship to couple well-being was fully mediated by relational virtue but was not connected to relational inequality. They also found that relational inequality was associated with women's conflict, men's conflict, and marital instability. They did not find that higher religiousness benefits marital outcomes directly. Although these findings do not support the idea that religious activities are directly associated with stronger relationships, the data did show that religiousness can contribute to expressed relational virtue, and relational virtue in turn is associated with marital well-being.