Prayer as a Conflict Resolution Ritual: Clinical Implications of Religious Couples' Report of Relationship Softening, Healing Perspective, and Change Responsibility


spirituality, religiosity, religious couples


Spirituality and spiritual practices loom large as predictors of individual and relationship outcomes (Richards & Bergin, 1997). For religious couples, Deity's influence in their marriage is often invoked and experienced through prayer, and Deity may more regularly and significantly influence religious couples' interaction than anyone else, including family members (Butler & Harper, 1994). As a preliminary test of this hypothesis, a geographically diverse sample of religious spouses ( n = 217) completed a 102-item Likertscaled questionnaire assessing their phenomenological experience of prayer during marital conflict. Participant spouses noted relationship softening, healing (neutral/self-change) perspective, and perception or experience of change responsibility as significant effects associated with their prayer experience. Issues surrounding clinical use of prayer as a conflict resolution tactic for religious couples are considered.

Original Publication Citation

Butler, M. H., Stout, J. S., & Gardner, B. C. (2002). Prayer as a conflict resolution ritual: Clinical implications of religious couples’ report of relationship softening, healing perspective, and change responsibility. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 30(1), 19-37.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



The American Journal of Family Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor