School of Behavioral Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)
John C. Thomas
Covenant, Divorce, Evangelical, Marriage, Qualitative Study, Sexual Infidelity
Counseling | Counseling Psychology | Psychology
Allen, Theresa C., "In Covenant: A Grounded Theory Exploration of What Helps Evangelical Marriages Recover after Sexual Infidelity by the Husband" (2018). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 1766.
Infidelity is a commonly identified reason for the dissolution of marriages, including Christian evangelical marriages. Although there is empirical research investigating factors that contribute to infidelity, there is little research on how couples recover from such a breach to the marriage commitment. This study sought to answer the question: What helps evangelical marriages recover after sexual infidelity by the husband? The qualitative research was built on a semi-structured interview framework that collected the personal narratives of three couples that were a minimum of two years post disclosure of an infidelity in the marriage relationship. Infidelity, for the purposes of this research, consisted of extradyadic behaviors, such as oral, anal, or penis/vagina intercourse. The study used the inductive method of grounded theory to allow key words and conceptualizations to emerge from the data collection. The six major findings based on the analysis of the data included developing healthy communication, obtaining support and accountability, maintaining physical distance from the other woman, practicing security-priming behaviors, establishing God as a secure base, and finding a source of hope. The study’s generation of a theory about recovery from infidelity for evangelical couples will serve to inform clinicians who treat the complex issue of infidelity within the married evangelical population.