Spousal religious difference, marital satisfaction, and psychological well-being of Chinese older adults

Jia LI, Qi WANG*, Xiaochen ZHOU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This study aims to explore the associations between spousal religious difference (one religious and one nonreligious), marital satisfaction, and the psychological well-being of middle-aged and older Chinese adults.

Both religion and marital relationships are critical in coping with aging-related challenges.

We adopted the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) data, which collected a nationally representative sample of Chinese people over 45 years old. The sample included 1,285 adults (714 men and 571 women). Descriptive statistics, multiple regression models, and a path analysis based on generalized structural equation modeling (GSEM) were adopted.

Wives' marital satisfaction mediated spousal religious difference and psychological well-being, including depression and life satisfaction. Marital satisfaction was associated with depression and life satisfaction for both genders, and wives' marital satisfaction had a stronger association with life satisfaction than husbands'.

Spousal religious difference has significant negative associations with marital satisfaction and psychological well-being among middle-aged and older people in China, especially among women.

Based on the results of this study, further research is needed to focus on the individual and interpersonal outcomes of religiosity in middle-aged and older adults. In family therapy involving couples with different religious affiliations, counselors should pay attention to gender differences and prioritize addressing wives' marital satisfaction. Additionally, policies and services should also recognize the significant role of wives' marital satisfaction in the well-being of such couples.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFamily Relations
Early online date10 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 National Council on Family Relations.


  • depression
  • gender differences
  • life satisfaction
  • marriage
  • religious homogamy


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