Marital conflict among Hindus in the Durban metropolitan area.
This is a thesis on marital conflict among Hindu South Africans, a community in which the divorce rate is steadily rising. This study aims to gather objective and scientific information on some of the more important factors responsible for this conflict. Identification of high risk factors would provide valuable pointers about what needs to be done to prevent serious marital discord from arising in the first place, or, having arisen, what can be done about resolving them satisfactorily before relationships have been irreparably harmed. The sample comprised two groups of couples who were differentiated from each other by the quality of their marriages, one whose marriages have been generally stable and happy (the SM group) and the other whose marriages have been showing obvious signs of strain and instability over a period of at least six months (the UM group). At the time of the study the 100 couples who comprised the UM sample were receiving professional assistance at some welfare agency, hospital or marriage guidance centre. The 50 couples who comprised the SM sample were recommended by social workers on account of their very happy marriages. Data from the two groups were obtained through the use of an interview schedule. Their responses were compared so as to determine whether, and in what respects, the two groups of spouses differed from each other. The following factors were found to be associated with poor marital adjustment : marriage at an early age; low educational, occupational and socioeconomic levels; quarrelsome parents; hasty unions; marriage against parents' wishes; pre-marital pregnancy; periodic unemployment of breadwinner, and frequent change of occupation; debts; disadvantaged housing, short courtship period; marked age differences between partners; a more idealised, less realistic set of expectations regarding married life; unplanned pregnancies, too close or too little attachment with one's parents; a negative attitude toward in-laws; parents' disapproval of prospective partner; absence of friends; conflict over the choice of friends; activities which jeopardise a family's limited resources such as drinking and gambling; poor communication between spouses; sexual problems; and disagreement over division of labour in the home. The following factors were associated with good marital functioning: some conflict with one's parents, but not too much; visiting in-laws together; joint participation in outside interests; wholesome personality traits; freedom to communicate one's real feelings to the spouse without fear of retribution; constructive ways of handling conflict; wise handling of family's finances; democratic relationships; sexual compatibility; and a circle of mutual friends. A call is made for a National Family Programme (which will include the Hindu community) whereby the quality of family and married life can be improved. Joint contributions need to be made by the central government, universities, schools, the media, business and industry, as well as welfare, cultural, religious and service organisations.