Two Churches, One Marriage program
is informed by recent research on interchurch couples conducted
by the Center
for Marriage and Family at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
An interdisciplinary team of professionals with backgrounds in
theology, psychology, pastoral counseling, marriage and family
therapy, counseling, and sociology conducted the research. Consultants
from various denominations and religious organizations were also
actively involved and provided valuable input into the research.
As part of the research, engaged and married couples were interviewed
about the challenges and rewards of being in an interchurch relationship.
These interviews were also helpful in identifying different strategies
that interchurch couples used to deal with the various challenges.
As much as possible, comments and quotes from these interviews
are included throughout to bring alive the actual experiences of
interchurch couples. (Their names have been changed to protect
The Center for Marriage and Family also conducted a national survey
to see how interchurch and same-church individuals were similar
or different on a number of different dimensions. This study compared
interchurch and same-church individuals on a wide range of religious
and marital variables, and provided insight into what factors contribute
to interchurch couples having a happier and more enduring marriage.
Since the research by the Center
for Marriage and Family focused only on individuals who belonged
to different Christian churches or denominations, is intended primarily
for this type of couple. The term “interchurch” was adopted rather
than “interfaith” as a means of distinguishing interchurch couples
from those who belong to different religions (e.g., Christian-Jewish,
Christian-Muslim couples, etc.). Although many of the program concepts
will be applicable to couples of different religions, the research
did not specifically examine these types of relationships. Further
research in this area is clearly warranted. It is unclear, for
example, if couples of different religions face unique challenges
in comparison to interchurch couples who have different denominational
affiliations, but share a common Christian faith.
The following publications summarize
the research on interchurch couples conducted by the Center
for Marriage and Family
at Creighton University.
Williams, L. M., & Lawler, M. G. (2003). Religious heterogamy
and marital satisfaction: A comparison of interchurch and same-church
individuals. Journal of Family Issues, 24, 1070-1092.
Williams, L. M. (2002). Premarital counseling with interchurch
couples: Clinical implications from recent research. Journal
of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 1 (1), 45-64.
Williams, L. M., & Lawler, M. G. (2001). Religious heterogamy
and religiosity: A comparison of interchurch and same-church individuals.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,
Williams, L. M., & Lawler, M. G. (2000). The challenges and
rewards of being an interchurch couple. Journal
of Psychology and Christianity, 19, 205-217.
Lawler, M. G., Risch, G., & Riley, L. A. (1999). Church experience
of interchurch and same-church couples. Family
Ministry, 13, 36-46.
Center for Marriage and Family (1999). Ministry
to interchurch marriages: A national study. Omaha, NE: Creighton
Williams, L. M., & Lawler, M. G. (1998). Interchurch couples:
The issue of acceptance. Pastoral Psychology,
* Copies of this report can be ordered through the website or
by mail at:
Center for Marriage and Family
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178