What makes a wife happy in her marriage?

22 Oct

From Sociologist of Marriage, Brad Wilcox:

The happiness or otherwise of women is one of the great sociological themes of the last five decades and it is not clear how the balance sheet currently stands. But, for anyone interested in the happiness of married women, a study of American wives by University of Virginia sociologists W Bradford Wilcox and the late Steven L Nock is highly instructive.

Their research, first published in the journal Social Forces under the heading, “What’s Love Got To Do With It? Equality, equity, commitment and women’s marital quality”, is here summarised by Professor Wilcox as a resource for women and men interested in learning more about successful marriages.

The top predictors of women’s marital happiness, in order of importance:

A husband’s emotional engagement

Women who are married to men who make an effort to listen to them, who express affection and appreciation on a regular basis, and who share quality time with them on a regular basis (date nights, frequent conversations focusing on mutual interests and one another) are much happier in their marriages than women who do not have emotionally-engaged husbands.

Fairness

Women who think that housework (and other family responsibilities) are divided fairly are significantly happier than women who think that their husband does not do his fair share. Note, however, that most wives do not equate fairness with a 50-50 model of equality. Only 30% of wives in this study think their marriage is unfair, even though the vast majority of wives do the bulk of childcare and housework. Why is this? In the average marriage, husbands devote significantly more hours to paid labor than do wives—especially when children come along. So, in the average marriage, husbands and wives devote about the same amount of total hours to the paid and unpaid work associated with caring for a family.

A breadwinning husband.

American wives, even wives who hold more feminist views about working women and the division of household tasks, are typically happier when their husband earns 68% or more of the household income. Husbands who are successful breadwinners probably give their wives the opportunity to make choices about work and family—e.g., working part-time, staying home, or pursuing a meaningful but not particularly remunerative job—that allow them to best respond to their own needs, and the needs of their children.

A commitment to marriage

Wives who share a strong commitment to the norm of lifelong marriage with their husband—e.g., who both believe that even unhappily married couples should stay together for the sake of their children—are more likely to have a happy marriage than couples who do not share this commitment to marriage. Shared commitment seems to generate a sense of trust, emotional security, and a willingness to sacrifice for one’s spouse—all of which lead to happier marriages for women. This shared commitment also provides women with a long-term view of their marriage that helps them negotiate the inevitable difficulties that confront any marriage.

Staying at home

Wives who stay at home tend to be happier in their marriages than wives who work outside the home. This is particularly true for women who have children in the home. Women often find it difficult to juggle kids, a career, and a marriage all at the same time. In fact, the study finds that working women are less likely to spend quality time with their husbands. They are also more likely to report that the division of housework is unfair. So time pressures and role overload help to explain why working wives are typically less happy in their marriages.

Shared religious attendance

Wives who attend church or some other worship service with their husbands tend to be happier than wives who do not share religious attendance with their husbands. Religious attendance may give wives a sense that God is present in their marriage, a sense that their husband seeks to please them by attending church with them, and/or access to other married couples who value marriage and can provide them with guidance and moral support for their marriages.

Traditional gender attitudes

Wives who hold more traditional gender attitudes—e.g., who believe that wives should focus more on nurturing/homemaking and husbands should focus more on breadwinning—are happier than wives who hold more feminist attitudes. One reason this may be the case is that traditional-minded wives probably have lower expectations of what their husbands can and should do for them emotionally and practically. We also find that more traditional-minded wives spend more quality time with their husbands, perhaps because they are less likely to argue with their husbands about housework and childcare.

Four Key Questions:

Does this study apply to more feminist-minded women?

Yes. In a companion study I looked at marital happiness among women who had more progressive gender attitudes about the division of work and family, and who expressed support for working wives. Even women in this sample tended to be happier if they did not work outside the home, had a husband who took the lead in breadwinning, and/or shared a strong commitment to the norm of lifelong marriage.

Does this study apply to less-educated women?

For the most part, yes. Married women who have a high school degree or less are happier when their husbands are emotionally engaged, when they think housework is divided fairly, when their husbands take the lead in breadwinning, and when they share church attendance with their husbands. However, less-educated wives’ employment does not affect their marital happiness nor does a shared sense of marital commitment.

Does this study apply to every married woman?

The study’s findings are averages and they do not apply to every married woman. There are, of course, feminist-minded women in egalitarian marriages who are very happy, just as there are traditional-minded women in traditional marriages who are very unhappy. For instance, 41% of working wives in our study report they are “very happy” in their marriages. So just because a woman does not have one or two or even three of these predictors does not mean she is necessarily unhappy in her marriage. But if she is missing all of these predictors, she is much more likely to be very unhappy in her marriage.

Are wives likely to be happier if they have more of these predictors?

Wives who have more of the above predictors tend to be the happiest wives. So, for instance, 61% of married women whose husband’s earn the lion’s share of their income and go to church with their husbands and share a commitment to lifelong marriage are very happy in their marriages, versus 45% of women who do not have all of these predictors.

W. Bradford Wilcox is Director of the National Marriage Project  at the University of Virginia, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, and a member of the James Madison Society at Princeton University. 

- See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/who_shall_find_a_happy_wife#sthash.HGL0hKaH.dpuf

What’s a conservative to do in a post-Christian culture?

22 Oct

From Dr. Samuel Gregg:

At the risk of oversimplification, in one corner are those perhaps best described as “MacIntyrians,” after the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre and his seminal book After Virtue (1981). They suggest that modern liberalism’s advance in the academy and the wider culture (especially the media) is now so pronounced that it’s rendering any alternative shaping of the public square extremely difficult. Some even hold that aspects of the American experiment, by which they appear to mean a type of Lockean materialism, were bound to eventually marginalize alternative arguments.

In the other camp are those who might be called “Murrayites.” Named after the Jesuit philosopher John Courtney Murray and his equally important text We Hold These Truths (1960), this group readily acknowledges that American intellectual and popular culture is in very bad shape. They aren’t, however, convinced that the American experiment is either down-and-out or irredeemably flawed. Instead, they maintain that much of the American Founding continues to provide a sound general context for religious conservatives to make and advance their political, social, economic, and national security positions.

The significance of this discussion, however, goes far beyond the world of Catholic conservatives. Its wider importance—not just for Catholics but also other conservative-minded Christians, Jews, and those of a secular bent—is this big question: will natural law and appeals to right reason remain a salient element in American conservative public argument?

Read the rest

5 factors impacting poverty

21 Oct

About Dr. Anne Bradley

Anne Bradley, Ph.D. is Vice President of Economic Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. Anne received her Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University. She is a visiting professor at Georgetown University and has previously taught at George Mason University and at Charles University in Prague

http://blog.tifwe.org/five-factors-impacting-poverty-today/

Media consumption and political polarization

21 Oct

From a recent Pew Survey:

When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. There is little overlap in the news sources they turn to and trust. And whether discussing politics online or with friends, they are more likely than others to interact with like-minded individuals, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

Striking Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives, But They Also Share Common GroundMain Source of Government and Political News

Ideological Placement of Each Source’s Audience

Consistent Liberals More Likely to Drop a Friend Because of Politics

Belgic Confession: Scripture Proof of this Doctrine (Trinity)

20 Oct

ARTICLE 9 – SCRIPTURE PROOF OF THIS DOCTRINE

All this we know both from the testimonies of Holy Scripture1 and from the respective works of the three Persons, and especially those we perceive in ourselves. The testimonies of Scripture which lead us to believe this Holy Trinity are written in many places of the Old Testament. It is not necessary to mention them all; it is sufficient to select some with discretion.

In the book of Genesis God says: Let Us make man in our image after our likeness …. So God created man in His own image…; male and female He created them (Gen 1:26-27). Also: Behold, the man has become like one of Us (Gen 3:22). From God’s saying, Let Us make man in Our image, it appears that there are more divine persons than one; and when He says, God created, He indicates that there is one God. It is true, He does not say how many persons there are, but what seems to be somewhat obscure in the Old Testament is very plain in the New Testament. For when our Lord was baptized in the river Jordan, the voice of the Father was heard, who said, This is My beloved Son (Mat 3:17); the Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form as a dove.2 For the baptism of all believers Christ prescribed this formula: Baptize all nations into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Mat 28:19). In the gospel according to Luke the angel Gabriel thus addressed Mary, the mother of our Lord: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Likewise: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor 13:14). In all these places we are fully taught that there are three persons in one only divine essence.

Although this doctrine far surpasses all human understanding, nevertheless in this life we believe it on the ground of the Word of God, and we expect to enjoy its perfect knowledge and fruit hereafter in heaven.

Moreover, we must observe the distinct offices and works of these three Persons towards us. The Father is called our Creator by His power; the Son is our Saviour and Redeemer by His blood; the Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier by His dwelling in our hearts. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity has always been maintained and preserved in the true church since the time of the apostles to this very day, over against Jews, Muslims, and against false Christians and heretics such as Marcion, Mani, Praxeas, Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, Arius, and such like, who have been justly condemned by the orthodox fathers. In this doctrine, therefore, we willingly receive the three creeds, of the Apostles, of Nicea, and of Athanasius; likewise that which in accordance with them is agreed upon by the early fathers.

1. John 14:16; John 15:26; Acts 2:32-33; Rom 8:9; Gal 4:6; Titus 3:4-6; 1 Pet 1:2; 1 John 4:13-14; 1 John 5:1-12; Jude 1:20-21; Rev 1:4-5. 2. Mat 3:16.

- See more at: http://www.scripturezealot.com/belgic-confession/#sthash.WLQjRiMc.dpuf

Where conservatism should go from here according to Dreher and Scruton

20 Oct

From the Imaginative Conservative:

From a fascinating interview with Roger Scruton in Prospect:

Related to this is the emphasis you place on what you call the “first-person plural,” a phrase that occurs several times in the book.

Yes. Ultimately, political order does not generate itself. For that reason, social contract theories are suspended in mid-air, so to speak. All political order presupposes a pre-political order, a sense that people belong together. And then, of course, they might seek a contract that embodies their togetherness. But the togetherness has to be there.

With Oakeshott’s remarks about conservatism as a “disposition” in mind, I was very struck by something you say about the tone of voice in which this book is written. You say: “The case for conservatism does not have to be presented in elegiac accents.” What do you mean by that?

So much of modern political conservatism—and you see this in America, which has a quite articulate conservative movement compared with us—is phrased in elegiac terms. [It’s about] what we’ve lost—we’ve lost the traditional working-class family, the black family or whatever it might be. Now, all that is perfectly reasonable. But the most important question is what have we got, rather than what we’ve lost, and how do we keep it?

That’s well said. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I think Scruton’s insights here point the way forward for religious conservatives in this rapidly changing social order. We must give up on the hope of restoring the past in this culture. It’s not that some aspects of the past shouldn’t be reclaimed, but rather that doing so, at least at a society-wide level, is not feasible at this point in time. The more we act as if it were so, the greater our losses will be once we definitively lose an unwinnable battle. This “take back America” stuff is self-deluding nostalgia, and the more conservatives believe it, the worse off they will be.

There are times when you have to fade into the forest and retrench. I’ve called this call for retrenchment the Benedict Option, because it strikes me as the most sensible strategy by which religious conservatives can engage the world as it is now and is to come. The Benedictines were ordinarily not completely cloistered; they engaged with the people in the areas where their monasteries were. But they established walls and habits that set them apart from the secular world, and gave them the means to preserve their identity over generations. This is what I’m talking about: how to preserve the core of our identity in a post-Christian culture?

I don’t think anybody has the answer yet, and it may be that the answer will only emerge after we try a number of different things and see what stands the test of time. The thing is, we have to try. A Protestant friend wrote me yesterday about struggles within his church community, and how he’s run into a buzzsaw of opposition in trying to bring real content to the Sunday school curriculum. He reports that the adults think everything is going to be okay for the younger generation if they just keep doing what they’ve been doing and hope for the best. Meanwhile, he says, they are just processing kids who emerge fluent in moralistic therapeutic deism, but theologically and culturally ignorant of Christianity.

Absent an adult conversion, these kids aren’t likely to make it as Christians in the world as it is and the world as it shall be in the next few years and decades. It grieves my friend, but he says it has been a real lesson for him in the power of fear of change within a community. This, I told him, is the kind of conservatism that kills. To paraphrase Burke, a church community without the means of change is one without the means of its own preservation. The art of it is figuring out what needs to change in our way of living and doing for the sake of preserving our core values.

So, to pivot towards the future, let me put the Scruton question to the conservatives in the room: What have we got, and how do we keep it?

I’ll take a non-comprehensive stab at answering this from a religiously conservative point of view.

What we’ve got is enough people with a cultural memory, and cultural awareness, of what we have lost, and a desire to both reclaim it from the past and pass it on to our future, to make a community. For some it will be actual local communities; for others, it will be virtual communities. I suspect for all of us it will be a combination of both. We have to preserve those communities and the virtues they embody. We’ve got to build institutions dedicated to this end — which, for religious believers, has to mean dedicated to the service of God within our particular tradition, not dedicated to the service of the tradition itself, if you appreciate the distinctions. Schools, churches, institutions of civil society — all kinds of institutions that incarnate our values and pass them on in a living way: this is what we’ve got to have if we are going to keep what we’ve got.

We live in a time of cultural revolution, in which everything that is solid, from a Christian point of view, melts into air. If we want to hold on to what we’ve got in terms of our faith and our values, we’ve got to make our beliefs concrete in new ways, ways designed and built to endure the radicalism of the situation we’re now in.

We’ve got a First Amendment, the penumbra of which grants us lots of latitude for running our own religious lives as we see fit. The ground of liberty in this way is going to be shrinking, that’s clear, in the coming laïcité. But we still have a lot more freedom than do religious folks in other countries, and that’s worth preserving. I am a conservative, not a libertarian, but we live in a fundamentally libertarian social order. It might make sense, then, to vote for principled libertarians over conventional conservatives, if the principled libertarians truly respect the liberty of unpopular religious minorities to live within their sphere and flourish. I believe that over the course of my children’s lifetime, defending the First Amendment is going to become the most important cause for religious conservatives, because on it everything else for us will depend.

These are my two ideas this morning. I welcome yours. As I said, my conservatism is primarily religious and social, not economic, so my answers reflect that.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Republished with gracious permission of The American Conservative.

Generally, as religion goes, so goes the family and as the family goes, so goes society

16 Oct

From Sociologist Brad Wilcox (original link from First Things):

ll the attention devoted to the first Roman Catholic Synod on the Family, which wraps up this week at the Vatican, is but one sign that the ties binding hearth and altar to one another can still be the subject of considerable concern. That’s in part because the fortunes of the family in the West have largely ebbed and flowed with the fortunes of religious faith over the centuries, as scholars like Peter BergerRobert Wuthnow, and Mary Eberstadt have noted.

Here in the United States, the increasingly secular cast of American society has gone hand in hand with a retreat from a family-focused way of life that prioritizes marriage and parenthood. As Americans have become less likely to defer to religious authorities—from the Pope to the pastor—and less likely to darken the door of a church on any given Sunday, they have also become less likely to tie the knot and have that third or fourth child. The figure below is indicative of how closely marriage trends in the U.S. track trends in church attendance.

What accounts for the close relationship between hearth and altar in the West? As I noted in First Things:

Churches and synagogues give symbolic and practical support to family life. In such rites as a baptism and a bris, congregations erect a sacred canopy of meaning over the great chapters of family life: birth, childrearing, and marriage. Rabbis, pastors, and priests . . . offer concrete advice about marriage and parenthood. Congregations also have disproportionately high numbers of families who put family-centered living high on their list of priorities. These families offer moral and practical support to adults adjusting to the joys and challenges of married life and starting families.

Religious traditions also supply family-specific norms, like the importance of marital fidelity, as well as more generic norms, such as the Golden Rule. And they tend to endow these norms with transcendent significance. More generally, Berger has argued that, given their shared concern with meaning, solidarity, and the transmission of culture from one generation to the next, and their social proximity to one another in the private sphere, religion and family in the West have been inclined to work together, and reinforce one another. This is why religion is often a force for family in the modern world.

But does the close connection between religion and family life long observed in the West apply around the globe? I set out to answer this question by looking at fifty-two countries—from Armenia and Azerbaijan to Sweden and Singapore—around the globe, using data from the World Values Survey and the Population Reference Bureau.

When it comes to fertility, the answer is yes. The scatter plot below indicates that countries who have more citizens indicating that religion is important to them (from “not at all important” to “very important”) also tend to have higher fertility rates. Moreover, statistical analyses indicate that the link between religious salience, at the country level, and the total fertility rate (TFR), at the country level, is positive (p<.05), even after controlling for region, urbanicity, gross national income per capita, and income inequality in these countries. (Note, of course, that correlation does not necessarily equal causation here, and higher fertility might also predict greater religiosity.)

Indeed, the countries with the highest levels of religious salience in the sample—Nigeria and Yemen—also have the highest fertility rates: respectively, 5.6 and 5.2 children per woman in 2012. Certainly other factors are at play here, from low levels of education to strong kinship systems, but it’s likely that Christian and Muslim teachings celebrating the generation of life and customs and rituals honoring the sacrifices of fathers and mothers play a role in accounting for the close connection between fertility and faith around the globe.

When it comes to marriage, the connection between religion and family life is also positive. In most regions of the world, countries that are more religious typically have more adults aged 18–49 who are married. Indeed, there is a statistically significant (p<.05) association between religious salience, at the country level, and the percent of adults who are married, at the country level, even after controlling for region, urbanicity, gross national income per capita, and income inequality in these countries. The premium placed on marriage as the ideal site for lifelong love and childbearing by most of the world’s major religious traditions, the social value attached to the wedding rite, and the support accorded a wide range of marriage-friendly norms by most religious traditions all probably help to explain the religion-marriage connection found across much of the globe. (Again, the correlation shown here does not necessarily indicate the link between religiosity and marriage is causal, and it’s also likely that higher marriage rates predict greater religiosity in a country.)

One exception to the generally positive religion-marriage link is Latin America, as the figure above indicates. In many countries in this region, cohabitation, single parenthood, and family instabilityare high, according to data from the World Family Map. And, yet, so too are forms of the Catholic and Protestant faith. Marriage is comparatively weak, and religion is comparatively strong, in countries like Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. In these countries, religious faith may be a lifeline for women, children, and families in communities where the family is weak and poverty is common, places where—as political scientists Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart have argued—“existential insecurity” is high.

So, perhaps it’s no accident that Pope Francis has been making waves with his untraditional approach to tackling the issue of marriage. He may be less likely to associate strong families with strong faith, and more likely to see the ways in which religious faith can be a balm for fragile families. After all, in Francis’s native Latin America, the ties between hearth and altar are attenuated at best.

Still, the data tell us that the Latin American experience is exceptional, at least when it comes to marriage. In general, the fortunes of faith and family seem to operate in synchronicity. This is a lesson that the church leaders now meeting in Rome would do well to keep in mind.

W. Bradford Wilcox directs the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and is a senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies. This article is co-published with Cornerstone and First Things.

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