Marital Conflict: Better With Religion or Worse?

This post is third in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advise on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and  your family live better lives.

As expressed in our mission, we are very intent on studying the family as the basic unit of society. Every department, program, and center relates in some way to that analysis. Much of what we talk about on this site has to do with it and the challenges facing the core part of most families, which is marriages. We know that married couples face a lot of challenges, ranging from addictions to everyday conflict. One of our School of Family Life professors, David Dollahite, has conducted a lot of research about some of those challenges, particularly the affect that religion has on them. In a 2015 lecture, he summarized his findings on whether or not the shared exercise of religion helps married couples avoid, respond to, or reconcile after conflict. “In a nutshell,” he said, “we found that religion has an impact at all stages of conflict. When you have a deeply-shared set of beliefs and understandings, you avoid a lot of problems off the bat.”

Watch this less-than-two-minute video discussing those findings here:

Faith and Family: What Really Works, No Matter Your Religion.

1502-12 Dollahite, David 251502-12 Family Life PortraitsFebruary 5. 2015Photo by Christena Bentley/BYUBYU Photo 2015All Rights Reservedphoto@byu.edu (801) 422-7322
Family Life Professor: David Dollahite

Does religious participation strengthen or weaken families? That’s the question posed by the American Families of Faith Project. Its purpose is “to explore the processes at work at the nexus between religiosity and family relationships that lead to positive outcomes.” FHSS professor David Dollahite and his colleagues interviewed 200 families of different faiths to learn how and why religion strengthens their relationships. After years of research and analysis, they have discovered what really works, no matter a family’s religion.

Dollahite is an expert in the field of family and religion studies and is co-director and founder of the project that began 13 years ago. But his interest in that nexus began 35 years ago when he chose to enter the family life program at BYU. “I was a new member of the [LDS} church,” he said, “and I wanted learn how to become the best husband and father I could possibly be.”

He will share the gems of his research–the “best practices” of religious families–at this year’s Virginia Cutler Lecture, held in 250 SWKT, on October 22nd at 7pm. Dr. Loren Marks, co-director of the project, says of the study that they had: “an embarrassment of riches [in data] – more than we’ll be able to touch in our lifetime.”


Come find out more about:

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How can faith strengthen your marriage?

Avoiding and resolving marital conflict.

It’s all about how you live your faith – and how you perceive God.

Strengthening youth.

Learn about how “anchors of religious commitment” and a strong religious identity can help children live meaningful religious lives.

Having meaningful conversations about religion.

It can be hard to talk to children and spouses about faith and religion, you’ll learn how to make it happen (and how to make it effective).

Faith Family
Strengthening youth through faithful observance.

Learning from (and emulating) other faiths.

It is one thing to respect or tolerate other religions. It is another to admire and learn from them.

Balancing faith and family life.

The combination can either build or break down your family. It’s all about doing it the right way.