Date of Award

1997

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Frederick A. Kosinski, Jr.

Second Advisor

Walter B. T. Douglas

Third Advisor

Roger L. Dudley

Abstract

Problem. Only a few attempts have been made thus far to explore the situation of Christian divorced men and women in a scholarly manner. The basic question for this research was to find out what social factors, religious factors, and coping strategies are related to the divorce adjustment of divorced Christians who are members of predominately conservative Protestant denominations and how well these Christians adjust to divorce.

Method. The population for this research project was composed of all currently divorced men and women residing in the United States of America who are members of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, the Church of the Nazarene, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The sample for this study consisted of 360 subjects who were members of one of the three target denominations at the time when the decision to divorce was made. The hypotheses were tested using the following statistical methods: t-test for two independent samples, ANOVA, Pearson r, and Spearman rho. A combination of hierarchical and stepwise multiple regression procedures was employed to develop an integrated view of the relationships between the independent variables and the four measures of adjustment (self-esteem, symptoms of depression, attachment, and anger at loss) based on the adapted model of coping with family stress.

Results. Religious variables played a limited hut significant role in explaining the variance in divorce adjustment. Meaning-related variables (meaning, positive reappraisal) entered into the final multiple regression models for self-esteem. symptoms of depression, and attachment. Escape-avoidance and health status played an important role in explaining the variance in divorce adjustment.

Conclusions. The majority of this religious sample of 360 divorced men and women evidenced high self-esteem and low attachment. The perceived frequency of depressive symptomatology was higher among the respondents in this study than what Radloff (1977) reported for the general public. The majority of subjects seemed to experience problems in the area of anger at loss.

The adapted model of coping with family stress appears to have heuristic value for the study of divorce adjustment among members of conservative Protestant denominations. Specific adjustment problems seem to be related to specific indicators of religious experience. Coping strategies appear to he important in divorce adjustment.

Subject Area

Divorce--Seventh-day Adventists, Divorce--Lutheran Church, Divorce--Nazarene Church, Divorce--Psychological aspects

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