Could Building Your Faith Help Repair Your Relationship?

A major problem affecting relationships today is lack of spiritual insight. This can take the form either of religious conviction, or a general awareness of the spiritual side of our being, for which marriage is so important. What, then, of spirituality nowadays? All the major world faiths, from the Roman Catholic Church, by way of the Orthodox and Protestant Churches, to Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, are faced with declining congregations and waning influence. They bewail not only their own failure to provide a firm lead, but also the dwindling of religious belief among their followers.

In 1986 an article appeared in a daily newspaper about a survey of the religious attitudes of top management in two large towns. The survey showed that barely twenty per cent of the people involved in the survey unreservedly attributed the role of moral guidance to the Church. Sixty per cent considered that neither Church nor faith was necessary to a morally upright life. When these people were asked, 'To whom do you feel responsible for your actions?', sixty-six per cent named their own family, then their consciences, then themselves. For fourteen per cent God only appeared in fourth place on the list, followed by the community in fifth place. Not one of the 550 people interviewed felt any responsibility towards the Church; in fact sixty-four per cent completely rejected the idea of such a responsibility.

How does a decline in religious faith affect divorce statistics? Firstly, all religious traditions assert the sanctity of marriage and thus create a firm expectation in the mind of believers that each partner is committed to a lasting relationship. Knowing that one's partner has faith in the relationship and is not poised to abandon ship at the first sign of rough weather gives confidence and security to a relationship and ensures it is nurtured in a trusting and encouraging environment.

Moreover, religious faith assists individuals in their spiritual development and helps them to become less self-centred and more other—centred, which has a unifying effect on their marital relationship. This is also associated with a belief in the human ability to change. When we believe that people can change, we are able to regard our partner and our problems in a more positive and optimistic light and, as a result, will be more prepared to work at our marriages.