ASIA/VIETNAM - Divorce rate rising: Tendency less pronounced among Catholics

Tuesday, 13 June 2023 marriage   faith   catholic church   society   youth  

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Hanoi (Agenzia Fides) - More and more young couples in Vietnam are getting divorced. This is confirmed by the latest statistics and sociological studies. The country's divorce rate has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, from 1% in 2009 to 1.8% in 2019. In a recent interview with the well-known Vietnamese state newspaper "Bao Dai Dona Ket", sociologist Nguyen Anh Hong said: "The increase in divorce in our society today is really a serious problem". Family life is unstable, social relationships are becoming complicated and family values are changing". Hong added, "The phenomenon of young people getting married and soon getting divorced is a matter of serious concern in our culture and society". According to the Institute of Family and Gender Research, Vietnam averages more than 60,000 divorce cases annually as of 2018, accounting for 30 percent of the total number of couples who get married. Among divorced couples, young families between the ages of 18 and 30 account for 70 percent of the cases; married couples account for 60 percent of the cases have lived together in their marriage for between 1 and 5 years. According to the statistics, there are various reasons for the breakdown of marriages: in 27.7% of cases, the divorce is due to conflicts in the lifestyle, in 25.9% to adultery, 13 % on economic factors, 6.7% on domestic violence and 2.2% on health reasons.
With around 13 million people, the so-called "Generation Z" (young people born between 1997 and 2012) make up about 19% of the population of Vietnam. By 2025, this generation will provide around a third of the country's workforce and will thus play an increasingly important role in shaping society.
Psychologist Ngo Minh Uy, who lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, states: "Through my work experience, I see that the marital crisis is mainly due to a lack of mutual understanding and preparation before marriage. When a conflict arises, people don't seek the real reason for the conflict and don't listen to their spouse to find a solution. Marital alienation and discord in raising children are also common causes of divorce".
Meanwhile, in the Catholic community in Vietnam (around 9 million believers out of a population of 97 million), this trend is less pronounced. In 2021, the Archdiocese of Hanoi conducted a survey among the baptized in 69 parishes, involving 5,610 parishioners. 1% of respondents indicated that they are separated or divorced. 89% of the 3,721 parishioners said they have never cheated on their spouse and are faithful in marriage. 92.7% stated that they live in a harmonious and loving family, despite all the difficulties and hardships. When married life hits a crisis, 79.6% of parishioners pray to God for help and 40.1% also seek advice from priests and religious. In conflict situations, the Catholic faithful opt for a peaceful solution in 82.3% of cases, which meets the demands of the spouse or children.
"Catholics seek God's help in resolving marital conflicts, believing that the Lord can intervene through the grace of the sacrament, transforming hearts and bringing peace. Ethical values and faith contribute to the process of reconciliation and conflict resolution. Marital obligations are an important factor that motivates spouses to choose altruism, resolve conflicts harmoniously and not allow a crisis to destroy married life," confirms the study.
"The channels of family support established by the Church," the study continues, "are very effective in reducing the negative consequences of conflict, helping spouses to overcome negative psychological states and the cracks in the relationship between husband and wife" . Young couples are sensitized by attending marriage preparation courses. According to the survey, the courses serve to strengthen the doctrinal foundations before marriage (62%), understand church marriage law (57.6%) and to provide knowledge and useful basis for marriage (49.4%).
Cu Thi Thanh Thuy, Vietnamese scholar and author of "Spousal Conflict in the Catholic Family, A Sociological Approach" (published in 2020), says: "The tendency of Catholic spouses in Vietnam is to resolve conflicts by reconciling the different positions and restoring harmony In the process of conflict resolution, the Christian faith plays an important role: sharing moral and religious values leads the spouses to take positive action to improve relationships and refrain from extreme solutions. Catholicism motivates married couples to look for solutions that preserve and do not destroy happiness in marriage".
According to the scholar, belief works on four basic levels: first, it helps to alleviate the emotional trauma when the conflict is in the acute phase; second, the commitment made in Christian marriage motivates people to choose peaceful solutions to solve problems; Third, the Catholic faith guides spouses to resolve conflicts by "examining themselves" and acknowledging their mistakes. Finally, priests and religious acted as advocates, counselors and bridges to resolve conflicts in marriage and family.
Another survey conducted by sociologist Nguyen Duc Loc in the diocese of Xuan Loc in southern Vietnam revealed that Catholic families tend to have more peaceful family lives than ordinary families in Vietnamese society today. The survey found that 89.2% of spouses are still living together as husband and wife in a long-term marriage; 7.7% are widowed and only 0.9% of Catholic couples are divorced. Catholic families are fairly stable in their daily activities, work, and religious life.
According to the various surveys, a stable married life is underpinned by faith life and faith practice, and one more figure is particularly revealing: 96% of baptized Vietnamese regularly attend Sunday mass and receive the sacraments regularly. (PA/AD) (Agenzia Fides, 13/6/2023)