According to the Aleinu Marital Satisfaction Survey””an anonymous online study conducted by the Orthodox Union in conjunction with a program of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles and the Rabbinical Council of California””72% of Orthodox men and 74% of Orthodox women rated their marriages as excellent or very good. By contrast, only 63% of men and 60% of women in the public at large told the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, that they were very happy in their marriages.
The Aleinu results are consistent with previous research indicating that couples who participate regularly in religious activities report greater marital contentment and are less likely to divorce. Still, I was surprised. While there are no official statistics, there exists an overwhelming perception in the Orthodox community that divorce rates have gone up, particularly among younger couples. The undertaking of the Aleinu survey attests to some level of worry on the part of Orthodox leaders that the sacred bonds of marriage have been weakened.
To its credit, the Orthodox Union, at a press conference last month, highlighted the top stressors to Orthodox marriages. Lack of communication, not enough time together, and conflicts with in-laws””common complaints of couples religious and not””are on the list. But also on it are special challenges, at least some of which will be familiar to people of other faiths and traditions that favor private schooling, early marriage and large families.