A scholar said that marital satisfaction was neither better nor worse regardless of whether a couple's religious affiliation was the same or different, compared to non-religious-affiliated couples.
Themed "Indigenization and Discourse Construction in the Study of the Sociology of Religion in the New Era", the 2021 Academic Annual Conference of the Chinese Sociological Association was hosted at Southwest University in Chongqing, from 16 to 18 July.
In the sub-forum of Sociology of Religion in the 2021 conference, hosted by the Chinese Sociological Society held on July 17, Sheng He, a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Peking University, delivered a lecture entitled “Will a Couple With Different Beliefs Get Along? – The Differences Between Husband and Wife’s Beliefs and Marital Satisfaction”.
“Since the reform and opening up, Christianity has developed rapidly,” He said. “It has also brought about the diversity of beliefs within families. Pluralistic beliefs also bring some contradictions and conflicts. Based on this phenomenon, I raised the issue of how the religious belief combination of Chinese couples will affect their marriage satisfaction.”
His analysis of this issue aimed to answer three main questions: "what is the combination of religious beliefs between the husband and wife in China?", "would the differences in beliefs between husband and wife lead to boredom?", and "were there other significant differences between the husband and wife?"
Mainly referred to the findings of western studies, he stated that western studies found that religious belief was positively correlated with marital harmony, but negatively correlated with negative consequences such as a marital breakdown. Marriages that were religiously homogeneous often led to higher marriage stability, while those which were religiously heterogeneous were often less satisfactory and easier to disintegrate than religiously homogeneous marriages.
He put forward three hypotheses and used quantitative research and a follow-up investigation to carry out further research projects, concluding that most couples in China had no religious beliefs. The proportion of religious heterogeneous marriage was higher than that of religious homogeneous marriage. The trend of different religious affiliations was that one spouse believed while the other did not.
Compared with nonreligious couples, marital satisfaction was neither better nor worse regardless of whether their religious affiliation was the same or different. This effect was not significant for either the husband or wife, this is to say, the study did not find that the difference of religious affiliation between husband and wife significantly affected their marital satisfaction.
When the husband and wife had the same religious practices, the evaluation of their marriage would not be more negative. When one of the spouses engaged in religious practices but the other did not, the individual might be influenced by the religious practice of the spouse. However, this dissatisfaction was directed at the practice of burning incense and worshipping Buddha, and couples often had no objection to the time of spouse’s worship. When both husband and wife had different religious practices, the husband tended to be more dissatisfied, especially when the husband worshipped God and the wife burned incense and worshipped Buddha.
Finally, He summarized, “Different beliefs may lead to couples being tired of seeing each other but other conditions need to be attached to this proposition, such as what religious measurement method is adopted. The majority of people in China have no religious beliefs and the differences between husband and wife’s beliefs may lead to worse marriage evaluation. China performs differently in this respect depending on the combination of the religious practices of each spouse.”