The Role of Religious Coping in the Marital Stability of Strong, African American Couples: A Strengths-Focused Approach.
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- religious coping; marriage; African American; Black; spirituality
thesis / dissertation description
Relatively few studies have examined the strengths of the African American family, while several have highlighted social issues that have affected the African American family such as divorce, single-parent households, and absentee fathers. This focus on deficit and dysfunction contributes to a research-based gap in understanding the African American marital dyad. Given that religion influences the lives of many African American couples, it is important to understand the impact that religious coping can have on marital stability in the African American community. The purpose of this study is to explore the underlying processes of religious coping for those African American couples that identify as highly religious and happily married. Specifically, this study seeks to answer the two following questions: 1) How do highly religious, happily married African American couples use religion as a coping resource for common stressors that impact the marriage?, and 2) How are the three approaches to religious coping, identified as self-directed, deferred, and collaborative, used to contribute to the marital stability of highly religious, happily married African American couples? In-depth, qualitative interviews were conducted with 35 African American couples, married for at least 7-years and highly involved with an Abrahamic (Christian, Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim) faith. Grounded theory methods and a Numeric Content Analysis were used to analyze the narrative data. Three a priori themes related to the variations of religious coping were presented: 1) Often, We Can Manage Our Stress, 2) I’ve Laid My Burdens Down, and 3) Dear God, Help Us to Help Us. Emergent subthemes related to each of these a priori topics were also presented. Implications, related to theory, policy, and practice, that consider the intersections of religion and marriage for African American families are also discussed.