Are Latter-day Saint Marriages Happier?

A few weeks ago I posted some numbers that suggested that Latter-day Saints have significantly lower divorce rates than non-Latter-day Saints. Fair enough, but are these marriages actually happier, or is this just because the stigma against divorce in Latter-day Saint culture is keeping marriages together that would have otherwise divorced? Unlike the divorce question, I am not aware of anybody else who has tested whether Latter-day Saint marriages are happier.

Thankfully, every year the US General Social Survey (discussed in the last divorce post) asks married respondents about their happiness with their marriage: “Taking things all together, how would you describe your marriage? Would you say that your marriage is very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?”

I pooled the last 10 years in order to get enough Latter-day Saints (although the results don’t substantively change if we include the last 15 years like I did with the divorce post), and scored “very happy” as a 3, “pretty happy” as a 2, and “not too happy” as a 1.

If we do this, we have 96 randomly sampled married Latter-day Saints to compare to everyone else (with 159 if we extend it back 15 years). The average non-Latter-day Saint marital happiness score is 2.59, whereas the average Latter-day Saint happiness score is 2.71. While both groups on average indicate that their happiness falls somewhere between “very happy” and “pretty happy,” Latter-day Saints are closer to “very happy.”

This difference is statistically significant. Therefore, it does appear that, in terms of self-rated happiness with their marriage, US Latter-day Saints score higher than others in the US. As always the code is on my Github page.


10 comments for “Are Latter-day Saint Marriages Happier?

  1. My wife and I have just been away for a few days to Mooloolaba, which is on the sunshine coast about 100k north of our home. Yesterday we took our mercedes gle and drove up, and down Tewantin beach, 48k each direction.

    I am trying to find a hobby, and 4WD might be it. My wife was apprehensive, but we have now done sand driving, very rough road mountain driving, without any problems, so we are both feeling more confident. On the mountain driving there is a road called Duck Creek Rd near where we used to live. We drove up it 8k horizontally and 1k vertically and it was a lot rougher than we remembered, and took over 2 hours. I looked it up the next day, and it was washed out by a cyclone in 2017, and is now impassable, but a few extreme 4WD enthusiastist test themselves, and 2 have died.

    We were married in 1970, and are very happy together.

  2. We LDS take marriage much more seriously than the average gentile and work harder at it. We invest more, and this circuitously leads to more happiness. I lave lots of problems w/ our faith, think much of what we do makes zero sense, but am grateful & fully endorse LDS marriage ethos.

  3. At mooloolabah, a seaside resort, we saw lots of couples of various ages, walking hand in hand, and lots of parents playing with their children. I think we would have to be very arrogant to claim we are happier than they are.
    It would be like me saying Australians are happier than Americans, because you are so politically divided.

  4. Ah, but we have more reasons to happy in our marriages, Geoff. So if we’re not doing better than the world–whose track record is a bit iffy in that department–then that’s a failure on our part, IMO.

  5. Can you list some Jack? Family proc describes marriage as a solemn responsibility we will be held accountable for, where men preside and women nurture. Happiness, joy, Spontaneity?

  6. First off, the atonement promises the continuity of identity.

    Second, the sealing powers of the priesthood promise the continuity of familial relations.

    Third, the gift of the Holy Ghost bestows virtue, wisdom, and love in a measure that is beyond what the world can provide.

    Fourth, the gospel elucidates our understanding vis-a-vis who and what we really are–thereby increasing our wonder and awe for each other.

  7. This is very cool. Thanks so much for doing it. I’d be interested to see whether the results are at all sensitive to the construction of the dependent variable. This specification imposes a linear relationship between categories (i.e., very happy is the same distance in happiness from pretty happy as pretty happy is from not too happy). Of course, we don’t know if that’s true. People might think of “very happy” as being closer to “pretty happy” than “pretty happy” is to “not too happy” or the reverse. One could imagine also trying a dummy/indicator variable =1 if answer is either very happy or pretty happy and 0 otherwise. Or a couple of other specifications. Just to see if the results (and the significance) stand up under different specifications.

  8. The sealing powers also nominate that the woman will be inferior and unable to hold the priesthood.
    They also allow for there being more wives, which could damage the happiness of the original relationship.

    I don’t believe either of these will happen but they are church teachings that could make lds marriages less happy.

  9. “I don’t believe either of these will happen but they are church teachings that could make lds marriages less happy.”

    I think it depends on how one understands those teachings. The way I see it–the royal matriarchy and patriarchy rule together as one. But that’s not to say that oneness means sameness. There are good reasons as to why the image of God incorporates both the male and the female. And one of those reasons (IMO) has to do with the management and navigation of sacred space. The two acting optimally according to their respective designs–in perfect unity–insures both the propagation and preservation of that which is most sacred and holy. And it is in the fruits of that union, IMO, where men and women alike will find the highest degree of joy.

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