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Religion a factor in divorce rate

It is common for an individual's upbringing and where they grew up to shape who they are and who they will become. Whether it is the region or the size of their hometown, people often hold and maintain the family values with which they grew up. For some couples in Texas, components such as religion, political party and education philosophy will often shape the couple's marriage and how they will live. It is these facets that could also affect the relationship that could ultimately lead to the end of a marriage.

When it comes to divorce, a recent report conducted by the University of Texas and the University of Iowa focused on various characteristics possessed by couples that might help explain why the relationship could not thrive or last. The study focused on religion and specifically on conservative families and marriages that occurred in the Bible belt or Republican states. The study determined that those who were religiously conservative, specifically Protestant, were more likely to divorce than their non-Protestant counterparts; nonetheless, non-Protestants living in an area of Protestants also are prone to this high rate of divorce, as well.

The control for this study was poverty. Lower income did attribute to high divorce rates. The southern Bible belt has a higher percentage of poor married couples. In addition, there is a lower percentage of unmarried couples that cohabitate. This is more commonly seen in more liberal and progressive areas.

A major finding in the study was the strong correlation between high divorce rates and early marriages among poor, religiously conservative couples. In states such as Alabama and Arkansas, these religiously conservative states have the second and third highest divorce rates in the nation. In contrast, liberal states have the lowest rates in the nation.

The study found that lower educational attainment, those raised in an abstinence-only community, low incomes and involvement in conservative religious groups correlate to a higher risk of divorce. Getting married young because cohabitation and sex out of wedlock are not generally acceptable also causes some couples to bypass education so they can enter the workforce in order to afford marriage and a family.

These values, although positive for some, create economical difficulties. In addition, couples who marry too soon may quickly realize that they are not right for one another. This could lead to serious disputes and eventually the dissolution of their marriages. Dealing with the hardships of a failed marriage can lead to a complicated situation. Those seeking to file for divorce should understand their options so they can take appropriate steps and protect their interests.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "More religiously conservative Protestants? More divorce, study finds," Emily Alpert Reyes, Jan. 17, 2014

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