For religious couples, the spiritual domain stands alongside biological, psychological, and systemic domains as an influence upon interaction and mechanism for change. A qualitative methodology consisting of structured interviews of religious spouses was used to investigate effects of prayer on couple interaction during conflict. A reliable description of the dynamics of prayer across spouse interviews was extracted by four analysts using a group interpretive procedure. Findings suggest that prayer invokes a couple‐God system, which significantly influences couple interaction during conflict. Overall, prayer appears to be a significant “softening” event for religious couples, facilitating reconciliation and problem solving. Prayer 1) invokes an experience of relationship with Deity; 2) deescalates hostile emotions and reduces emotional reactivity; 3) enhances relationship and partner orientation and behavior; 4) facilitates empathy and unbiased perspective; 5) increases self‐change focus; and 6) encourages couple responsibility for reconciliation and problem solving. Therapists' support of religious couples' use of prayer as a change mechanism is considered.
Family Process – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 1998
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