“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way… Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” — I Corinthians 13
The words of the apostle Paul are a familiar text at weddings, a time when hope is least tempered by experience.
But several new studies suggest the biblical text with its emphasis on consideration for others also may provide the foundation of a spiritual blueprint for lasting, satisfying unions.
Four studies published in the Journal of Family Psychology indicate that cultivating practices such as selfless prayer, spiritual intimacy and compassionate love can help keep couples happily together through the challenges of marriage, from becoming parents to caring for one another amid the infirmities of old age.
And another study in the fall issue of Sociology of Religion finds that individuals who attached great importance to their faith and entered into marriage for religious reasons are less likely to commit adultery.
The latest findings are part of a developing effort to delve deeper into the connection between religion and marriage to identify specific practices and beliefs that predict stronger unions.
Here are five ways faith may help lead to a lifetime of wedded bliss:
Praying for your partner: Asking God for help with one’s own needs did not predict stronger romantic relationships, one study of 316 college students found. What did matter in the study of college students, and a separate study of 205 married couples, were divine appeals praying for the welfare of their partner and asking God to watch over her or him. Praying for others was associated with increased commitment and more satisfying relationships, researchers from Florida State University and the University of Georgia found.