Research suggest that Black couples tend to marry later, with less frequency, have marriages that do not last as long, and are more prone to divorce than other racial categories. However, religion may play an important role to counteract the negative marriage trends among Black heterosexual couples. As a growing subfield of family psychology this study examines the influence of religion on marital sanctification and relational spirituality among 33 Black married couples (N = 66). In-depth qualitative interviews with Black married couples were analyzed to see how religion informed and shaped perceptions of marital sanctification as well as unique relational domains of relational spirituality. Major findings indicate that religious and spiritual beliefs, practices, and communities helped to form a perceptual framework that marriage was holy and sacred. Findings about marital sanctification suggested that religious couples may view their marriage as sacred or holy in four distinct ways: a) God-given; b) God-ordained; c) God-created; and, d) God-inspired. These perceptions of marriage a sacred institution seemed to influence four relational domains of relational spirituality by: a) creating a religiously-inspired goal-oriented perspective for partner or mate selection; b) encouraging a sense of sacred permanence to the relationship; c) fostering a willingness to sacrifice for one's relationship; and, d) evoking a pattern of religious and spiritual relational maintenance within the context of marriage. Marital sanctification was associated with increase in relational spirituality. Likewise, relational spirituality seemed to perpetuate an increase in marital sanctification. Thus, suggesting the potential for positive bi-directionality between marital sanctification and relational spirituality that may foster increased marital satisfaction, quality, and commitment and may also serve as a potential buffer against divorce among Black religious couples. Additional subthemes of marital sanctification and relational spirituality were also discussed as well as limitations of this study and suggestions for future research.Contemporary societal and media portrayals of Black masculinity and fatherhood often give a limited, or potentially negative view of manhood, and/or parenthood among Black males. Black American males are often represented and lauded as sports stars and rappers or marginalized as gangsters and deadbeat dads. The present study seeks to expand the paradigm of Black masculinity and fatherhood and provide a potentially positive, more expansive view of Black males in the success frame of religion and family life. In depth qualitative interview data was analyzed from a subsection of the American Families of Faith Dataset involving 33 religious Black couples (N = 66) from different religious backgrounds (Muslim and Christian) across the United States. Major findings identified two psychological processes that seemed to suggest a religious and family-oriented success frame for defining masculinity and manliness. Participants described undergoing a process of personal spiritual growth and maturity in which individuals left behind the "street life" mentality, in favor of becoming a "Godly man." This process was positively connected with the process of religious or spiritual masculine-identity transformation in which manhood was defined in terms of being relational with God and family, rather than the "bachelor mindset" or "single life" which suggested a relationally isolated view of masculinity. Implications, applications, limitations, and future directions for research were also discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Marriage, Family, and Human Development



Date Submitted


Document Type



marital sanctification, relational spirituality, qualitative, Black, African American, marriage, religion, spirituality, masculinity, fatherhood, Black, African American, religion, spirituality, masculine identities and transformation, success frames