Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version

June 1988


Published in Journal of Family Issues, Vol. 9 No. 2 (June 1988), pp. 224–239. Copyright © 1988 Sage Publications, Inc. Used by permission.


Data from a representative sample of 1,070 married Protestants and Catholics were used to examine the relationship between religious homogamy and marital happiness. Although couples may vary in the extent to which they share religious views (e.g., beliefs, values), previous research has treated religious homogamy as a dichotomy; a couple is either homogamous or it is not. A partial explanation for this is that few studies have gone beyond the broad divisions of Protestant, Catholic, and Jew. In the present study religious bodies were classified on the basis of doctrine and ritual, yielding six categories: Baptist, Calvinist, Catholic, fundamentalist, Lutheran, and Methodist. These categories were then used to develop a measure of estimated “religious distance” or degrees of heterogamy. This measure was used to test the hypothesis that the larger the religious distance or disparity, the greater the likelihood of unhappiness with the marriage. The hypothesis was supported by the data.

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