An increasing body of work documents the roles of religion and spirituality in Black American marriages. We built on this research to examine religious coping as a potential cultural resource for Black marriages using a dyadic analytic approach with longitudinal data. Specifically, we investigated the effects of positive (i.e., sense of spiritual connectedness) and negative (i.e., spiritual tension or struggle) religious coping on trajectories of marital love reported by wives and husbands in 161 Black, married, mixed-gender couples, and we tested the potential moderating role of spouse gender. At baseline, spouses reported on their religious coping, and they rated their marital love at baseline and during two additional home interviews conducted annually. Data were analyzed using growth curve modeling within an Actor-Partner Interdependence Modeling framework. Husbands who reported more positive religious coping at baseline exhibited relatively high and stable marital love over time, whereas those who reported less positive religious coping reported less love at baseline and exhibited declines in love over time. Wives who reported less negative religious coping at baseline were higher in marital love initially but showed declines over time, whereas those who reported more negative religious coping at baseline were lower in marital love initially but showed increases in love over time. Results highlight the importance of further research on the role of religion and religious coping in Black couples’ marital experiences and suggest differential roles of positive and negative religious coping for men’s and women’s marital love. Clinical and policy implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-325
Number of pages14
JournalFamily Process
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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