Do religiosity and spirituality help couples face stress?
Franklin, Kameron Joy
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Previous research suggests that life stress is linked to the occurrence of depressive symptoms. Furthermore, depressive symptoms have been linked to changes in marital satisfaction among married couples. For African Americans, engaging in religious and spiritual activities is often utilized as a coping mechanism when faced with various types of life stressors. Therefore, the current study examined the potential buffering effects of religiosity and spirituality for couples facing life stress. Path analysis was implemented to explore the longitudinal predictive relationships and cross-spouse effects among negative life events, religiosity and spirituality, depressive symptomatology, and marital satisfaction among a sample of 358 African American married couples. Results revealed significant longitudinal within-spouse and cross-spouse relationships between marital satisfaction, depressive symptoms, and life stress. Results also indicated that husbands’ own religious participation at Time 1 inversely predicted depressive symptoms 12 months later. Furthermore, husbands’ own religious participation at Time 1 positively predicted husbands’ marital satisfaction 12 months later, while wives’ religious participation at Time 1 inversely predicted husbands’ marital satisfaction 12 months later. These findings support previous studies that highlight the importance of cross-spouse effects between depressive symptomatology and marital satisfaction. Furthermore, these findings highlight important gender differences related to the impact of religious and spiritual activity, while indicating potential protective factors of religious participation for married African American men.