Positive religious coping in relationships predicts spiritual growth through communication with the sacred

Daryl R. Van Tongeren, Everett L. Worthington, Don E. Davis, Joshua N. Hook, Chelsea A. Reid, Rachel C. Garthe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Life transitions can cause relational strain, and individuals cope with offenses in a variety of ways, including drawing comfort from their religious and spiritual beliefs. The present study followed couples for 18 months after the transition to parenthood. Participants (N = 120) recalled the most hurtful offenses that had occurred in their relationship and completed measures of positive religious coping, spiritual growth, and communication with the Sacred in regard to that specific offense. As hypothesized, positive religious coping at Time 1 (i.e., 3 months postdelivery) was associated with communication with the Sacred at Time 2 (i.e., 9 months postdelivery), which then was associated with increased levels of spiritual growth at Time 3 (i.e., 21 months postdelivery). Furthermore, communication with the Sacred mediated the relationship between positive religious coping and spiritual growth. We conclude by discussing the value of positive religious coping in transforming difficult relational events into more meaningful and spiritually positive experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-62
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • coping
  • relational offense
  • religious
  • sacred
  • spiritual growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology


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