A Qualitative Exploration of Why Faith Matters in African American Marriages and Families


marriage, religion, African American families, Black families


Researchers have found recurring connections between shared marital religious involvement and improved marital stability functioning. However, researchers know little about the processes at work behind this connection. More specifically, there is a lack of data that addresses these issues in African American families, even though Black families tend to be involved in and influenced by religion. To address this paucity, in-depth, qualitative interviews were conducted with 60 married, African-American parents to explore the reported influence of faith in their personal, marital, and family lives. Using qualitative coding and analysis, researchers identified recurring concepts and key themes. In this chapter, six key themes relating to the interface between spiritual beliefs and Black families are presented. Those themes are: 1) "It's more than a religion, it's a relationship"; 2) "It's not a sacrifice...It's good stewardship"; 3) "Faith gets you through the rough times"; 4) "All things work together for good to them that love God"; 5) "Our last breath on earth is our first breath with Him"; and 6) "God ordained marriage and family." Rich qualitative data from the interviews that illustrate why these spiritual/religious beliefs are seen as valuable and meaningful are presented. Implications for practice and research are discussed.

Original Publication Citation

Marks, L. D., *Hopkins, K., *Nesteruk, O., Chaney, C., & Baumgartner, J. (2012). A qualitative exploration of why faith matters in African-American marriages and families. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 43, 695-714.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


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Journal of Comparative Family Studies




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor