The purpose of the study was to qualitatively investigate love in religious family relationships. Participants were from the American Families of Faith Project, a qualitative study on religion and family life with participants from 198 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim families (N = 478) across the United States. The primary research questions of present study were (a) what does love mean for families? (b) why do individuals and couples in families love? (c) how is love experienced? (d) what are the related processes of love? (e) how does religion influence love in religious families? and (f) what are the reported outcomes of love for individuals and families? Interview data was analyzed through a three-phase approach: feasibility study, codebook development, and grounded theory coding. The first phase conducted by two coders, excluding the author, concluded that there was sufficient data to conduct further analysis. The second phase was conducted by four coders, excluding the author and the two previous coders, who developed a codebook and organized data into four relational domains (marital, parental, children’s, and divine) and six categories, which were based on the research questions (meaning, motivation, process, experience, influence, and outcome). In the third phase, the author analyzed the intersections between domains and categories through matrix coding and numeric content analysis. Then, using modified grounded theory approaches, themes were developed and presented as findings with illustrative participant quotations. Finally, findings, limitations, future directions, and implications for therapists and educators were discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life



Date Submitted


Document Type





love, religion, family relationships, marriage, parenting, qualitative