This qualitative study was designed to produce a theoretical model to illustrate marital adjustment as a husband becomes a bishop (a lay-clergy position) in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Individual interviews were conducted with the husband and wife of six married couples wherein the husband was currently serving as a bishop. Grounded theory methods and elements of phenomenological research were used to collect and analyze the data. The model presented depicts the adjustment process that begins with the marital relationship prior to the husband becoming an LDS bishop. The husband then becomes an LDS bishop and begins to perform the duties and responsibilities of his new lay-clergy position. Consistent with systemic thinking, the husband's acceptance of the position of bishop affects the husband and the wife individually in turn affecting the marital relationship. The mutual influences between the husband and wife as individuals and the marital relationship constantly change both in flow and direction. The effects of the calling included both points of satisfaction and points of dissatisfaction/disconnect or a parallel set of experiences both for the individual and for the marital relationship. The parallel set of experiences and the resulting effects of the husband's service as an LDS bishop on the marital relationship produce a dialectical tension between covenants or promises that both the husband and the wife have previously made. One covenant is to serve God by sacrificing to build His kingdom on earth through service to others and the other covenant is to have a strong marriage. Adjustment strategies which included both individual and couple strategies were identified. Several themes identified in this study are consistent with existing empirical and theoretical literature. However, new themes were identified including the husband experiencing increased empathy towards his wife, wives feeling "left behind" spiritually, the challenge of negotiating issues of confidentiality, the influence of family of origin and current stressors on the adjustment process, and couples seeking support from those in positions of higher authority.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage and Family Therapy



Date Submitted


Document Type





clergy marriage, marital adjustment, qualitative study, grounded theory