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In a research brief this month, Bradford Wilcox, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia, analyzed three national studies in order to discover if "there is any evidence that religion is playing a role in encouraging a strong family orientation among contemporary American men?"  

His research led him to conclude that men who regularly attend Christian services are engaged in happier and stronger marriages and are more involved in the lives of their children than men who do not.

"70 percent of husbands who attend church regularly report they are 'very happy' in their marriages, compared to 59 percent of husbands who rarely or never attend church," explained Wilcox, who also said that the studies indicated that wives experienced more marital happiness when their husbands attended regular religious services.

This is likely one significant reason why the studies showed that married couples who attended regular Christian services were approximately 35 percent less likely to divorce then those couples who did not. 

Wilcox's research also looked at the effect religion has on the relationships between fathers and their children.

Fathers who attended regular Christian services spent an average of two more hours a week engaged in youth-activities with their children than fathers who did not attend regular services.  Christian fathers also spent more one-on-one time with their children and were 65 percent more likely to hug and praise their children.

The studies also found that children born inside of wedlock had much more "involved, affectionate, and consistent relationships" with their fathers.  This is an important statistic given Wilcox's findings that church attending men are more likely to have children inside of wedlock then non-church going men.

Wilcox concluded his research brief by strongly advocating the positive effects that religion has on husbands and fathers:

"This brief provides an array of evidence indicating that religion is an answer to the male problematic – that is, the tendency of fathers to become detached, emotionally or physically, from their children and the mothers of their children. I find that fathers who are religious, and who have partners who are religious, are – on average – more likely to be happily married, to be engaged and affectionate parents, and to get and stay married to the mothers of their children."

To see the full research brief:

[27 June 2008, Tim Waggoner, Virginia,]