Difficulties in Buddhist-Catholic Marriages: A Case Study in Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai Province, Vietnam

Tran Duy Hieu


Buddhism and Roman Catholicism are the two largest religions in Vietnam, and Buddhist-Catholic marriages are quite common amongst the Vietnamese. However, religious differences have created difficulties for many Buddhist-
Catholic couples. The paper examines the difficulties and disagreements found in Buddhist-Catholic marriages in Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai province. Basing on a survey conducted on 167 Buddhist-Catholic couples, the study investigates the difficulties that Buddhist-Catholic couples have experienced, and the ways in which they have dealt with disagreements, particularly those over religious matters. This paper argues that initial parental disapproval, obstacles resulting from the regulations of the Catholic Church, pressure to convert in order to get married, disagreement on which religion to practice at home, disagreement over children’s religious upbringing are among the most common difficulties that Buddhist-Catholic couples come against in their marriage. Those difficulties which are caused by the couples themselves, as well as by their families and religious regulations (i.e. of the Catholic Church) on inter-faith marriage, can lead to separation or divorce. Drawing on the analysis of the survey data, the study also provides suggestions for Buddhist-Catholic couples, highlighting the importance of ancestor worship.

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