Skip to main content
Log in

Experiencing Positive Religious Coping in the Process of Divorce: A Qualitative Study

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Journal of Religion and Health Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Divorce is one of the more stressful and psychologically challenging experiences for spouses and whole families. After divorce, a new era begins, when it is necessary to re-adapt to life and during which hard feelings also emerge. During the process of divorce, successful emotional adaptation to the new situation is of great significance. Religion or spirituality can be a powerful source of help for an individual coping with stressful situations brought up by divorce. This study aimed to explore if and how divorcees experience the burden of divorce and along with it the relationship with God (within Catholic tradition) as a source of positive support in coping with divorce. We conducted open semi-structured interviews with 11 participants. With empirical phenomenological analysis, we built a general description of the investigated experience which entails three areas of experience: experiencing the burden of divorce, which is related to experiencing the relationship with God and the ways of spiritual coping with divorce, and experiencing the effects of religious coping with divorce. The result of this research can be used in evidence-based psychosocial (e.g. psychotherapy, counselling) and spiritual help for individuals in comprehensive care after divorce.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. Although the concepts of ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion’ differ, in our paper they are used to denote overlapping elements.

  2. In this paper, we will generally use term ‘God’ for the highest spiritual being; however, in addition to Christian God, this term can also refer to other highest beings of various religions or spiritual teachings.

References

  • Abolghasemi, R., & Sedaghat, M. (2015). The patient’s attitude toward type 2 diabetes mellitus, a qualitative study. Journal of Religion and Health, 54, 1191–1205.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Amato, P. R. (2000). The consequences of divorce for adults and children. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1269–1287.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ano, G. G., & Vasconelles, E. B. (2005). Religious coping and psychological adjustment to stress: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61, 461–480.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ball, D., & Hiebert, W. (2006). Four predivorce marital typologies that aid clinical assessment. In C. A. Everett & R. E. Lee (Eds.), When marriages fail (pp. 71–84). New York, NY: The Haworth Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bickel, C. O., Ciarrochi, J. W., Sheers, N. J., Estadt, B. K., Powell, D. A., & Pargament, K. I. (1998). Perceived stress, religious coping styles, and depressive affect. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 5, 43–53.

    Google Scholar 

  • Butter, E. M., & Pargament, K. I. (2003). Development of a model for clinical assessment of religious coping: Initial validation of the process evaluation model. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 6, 175–194.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carr, A. (2000). Family therapy: Concepts, process and practice. Chichester: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Colaizzi, P. F. (1978). Psychological research as the phenomenologist views it. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Collins, G. R. (2007). Christian counseling. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    Google Scholar 

  • Durkheim, E. (1965). The elementary forms of the religious life. New York, NY: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Emery, E., & Pargament, K. I. (2004). The many faces of religious coping in late life: Conceptualization, measurement, and links to well-being. Ageing International, 29, 3–27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Exline, J. J. (2002). Stumbling blocks on the religious road: Fractured relationships, nagging vices, and the inner struggle to believe. Psychological Inquiry, 13, 182–189.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gostečnik, C., Repič Slavič, T., Poljak Lukek, S., & Cvetek, R. (2014). Trauma and religiousness. Journal of Religion and Health, 53, 690–701.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Greeff, A. P., & Merwe, S. (2004). Variables associated with resilience in divorced families. Social Indicators Research, 68, 59–75.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harrison, M. O., Koenig, H. G., Hays, J. C., Eme-Akwari, A. G., & Pargament, K. I. (2001). The epidemiology of religious coping: A review of recent literature. International Review of Psychiatry, 13, 86–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holmes, T. H., & Rahe, R. H. (1967). The social readjustment scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11, 213–218.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Idler, E. L., Musick, M. A., Ellison, C. G., George, L. K., Krause, N., Ory, M. G., et al. (2003). Measuring multiple dimensions of religion and spirituality for health research: Conceptual background and findings from the 1998 General Social Survey. Research on Aging, 25, 327–365.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • King, V. (2003). The influence of religion on fathers’ relationships with their children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65, 382–395.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kirkpatrick, L. A. (2005). Attachment, evolution, and the psychology of religion. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kitson, G. C. (2006). Divorce and relationship dissolution research: Then and now. In M. A. Fine & J. H. Harvey (Eds.), Handbook of divorce and relationship dissolution (pp. 15–40). New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koenig, H. G., McCullough, M. E., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Handbook of religion and health. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Kooistra, W. P., & Pargament, K. I. (1998). Religious doubting in parochial school adolescents. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 27, 33–42.

    Google Scholar 

  • Krumrei, E. J., Mahoney, A., & Pargament, K. I. (2009). Divorce and the divine: The role of spirituality in adjustment to divorce. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 373–383.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Krumrei, E. J., Mahoney, A., & Pargament, K. I. (2011). Spiritual stress and coping model of divorce: A longitudinal study. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 973–985.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (2006). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York, NY: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Livingston, S., & Bowen, L. (2006). Treating divorcing families in family therapy: Literature review. In C. A. Everett & R. E. Lee (Eds.), When marriages fail (pp. 3–9). New York, NY: The Haworth Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Margulies, S. (2007). Working with divorcing spouses. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • McGoldrick, M. (1995). You can go home again. New York, NY: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  • Meisenhelder, J. B. (2002). Terrorism, posttraumatic stress, and religious coping. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 23, 771–782.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nathanson, I. G. (1995). Divorce and women’s spirituality. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 22, 179–188.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pargament, K. I. (1997). The Psychology of religion and coping: Theory, research, practice. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pargament, K. I. (2002). The bitter and the sweet: An evaluation of the costs and benefits of religion. Psychological Inquiry, 13, 168–181.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pargament, K. I. (2007). Spiritually integrated psychotherapy. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pargament, K. I., Kennell, J., Hathaway, W., Grevengoed, N., Newman, J., & Jones, W. (1988). Religion and the problem solving process: Three styles of coping. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 27, 90–104.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pargament, K. I., McCarthy, S., Shah, P., Ano, G., Tarakeshwar, N., Wachholtz, A., et al. (2004). Religion and HIV: A review of the literature and clinical implications. Southern Medical Journal, 97, 1201–1209.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Pargament, K. I., Smith, B. W., Koenig, H. G., & Perez, L. (1998). Patterns of positive and negative religious coping with major life stressors. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37, 710–724.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pargament, K. I., Tarakeshwar, N., Ellison, C. G., & Wulff, K. M. (2001). The relationships between religious coping and well-being in a national sample of presbyterian clergy, elders, and members. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 40, 497–513.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Platovnjak, I. (2015). Divorce and remarriage of the divorced as a step toward engaging in a life with christ and the church? Bogoslovni vestnik (Theological Quarterly), 75, 475–486.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rijavec Klobučar, N. (2015). The role of spirituality in transition to parenthood: Qualitative research using transformative learning theory. Journal of Religion and Health. doi:10.1007/s10943-015-0088-4.

    Google Scholar 

  • Robinson, M. (1991). Family transformation through divorce and remarriage: A systemic approach. London: Routledge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Schore, A. N. (2003). Affect regulation and the repair of the self. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Siegel, D. J. (2010). The mindful therapist. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Simonič, B. (2015). Coping with divorce and relational family therapy. Family Forum, 4, 203–222.

    Google Scholar 

  • Simonič, B., Gojznikar, G., Cvetek, R., Mavrič, L., Sečnik, J., & Janežič, V. (2007). Religija kot vir pomoči pri soočanju s stresnimi in travmatičnimi dogodki. Bogoslovni vestnik (Theological Quarterly), 67, 261–280.

    Google Scholar 

  • Simonič, B., Rahne Mandelj, T., & Novšak, R. (2013). Religious-related abuse in the family. Journal of Family Violence, 28, 339–349.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Spickard, J. V. (2011). Phenomenology. In M. Stausberg & S. Engler (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of research methods in the study of religion (pp. 333–345). New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spilka, B., Hood, R. W., Hunsberger, B., & Gorsuch, R. (2003). The psychology of religion. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tasiro, T., Frazier, P., & Berman, M. (2006). Stress-related growth following divorce and relationship dissolution. In M. A. Fine & J. H. Harvey (Eds.), Handbook of divorce and relatinship dissolution (pp. 361–384). New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thompson, C. (2010). Anatomy of the soul. Grand Rapids, MI: Tyndale, Salt River.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tix, A. P., & Frazier, P. A. (1998). The use of religious coping during stressful life events: Main effects, moderation, and mediation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 411–422.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • van Kaam, A. (1966). Existential foundations of psychology. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Webb, A. P. (2008). A religious coping model of divorce adjustment. Unpublished doctoral disertation, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Webb, A. P., Ellison, C. G., McFarland, M. J., Lee, J. W., Morton, K., & Walters, J. (2010). Divorce, religious coping, and depressive symptoms in a conservative protestant religious group. Family Relations, 59, 544–557.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wong-McDonald, A., & Gorsuch, R. L. (2000). Surrender to God: An additional coping style? Journal of Psychology and Theology, 28, 149–161.

    Google Scholar 

  • Woods, T. E., Antoni, M. H., Ironson, G. H., & Kling, D. W. (1999). Religiosity is associated with affective status in symptomatic HIV-Infected African-American women. Journal of Health Psychology, 4, 317–326.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Worthington, E. L, Jr, Kurusu, T. A., McCullough, M. E., & Sandage, S. J. (1996). Counseling and religious values: A ten-year update and research prospectus. Psychology Bulletin, 119, 448–487.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The results of this work were obtained within the project No. J5-6825 financed by Slovenian Research Agency from the State budget.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Barbara Simonič.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Ethical Standard

All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Simonič, B., Klobučar, N.R. Experiencing Positive Religious Coping in the Process of Divorce: A Qualitative Study. J Relig Health 56, 1644–1654 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-016-0230-y

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-016-0230-y

Keywords

Navigation