For religious couples, the spiritual domain stands alongside the biological, psychological, and systemic domains as an influence upon interaction and mechanism for change. This study is a quantitative expansion of Butler, Gardner, and Bird's (1998) qualitative study, of the change dynamics of prayer. This study attempted to improve the generalizability of the Butler et al. (1998) study through its use of a larger, and religiously and geographically more diverse sample. This study investigated the effects of prayer during times of marital conflict through a quantitative methodology with a survey design. The researchers developed a survey based on the findings of the Butler et al. (1998) study, regarding the effects of prayer on couple conflict. The data on over 90 Christian religious couples was statistically analyzed to determine the reliability of the Prayer Conflict II instrument and to further confirm the Butler et al. (1998) findings. Findings indicated 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) de-escalates 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.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life



Date Submitted


Document Type





Marital conflict, Conflict management, Religious aspects, Prayer