School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Bridgette Hester


Christian couples, marriage, overcoming conflict, religion, religious over-idealization


Christianity | Counseling


The purpose of this case study was to explore how married Christians couples and pastors perceive the influence of religion, religious over-idealization, and community-centered social processes on couples’ ability to cope with relationship crises within their marriage in New York. The theory guiding this study was the Social Learning Theory by Albert Bandura (1977). The Social Learning Theory was fundamental in the discussion of marriage because behaviors can occur in a marriage that one spouse may disagree with, but due to lack of consequences or rewards, the behavior has persisted, leading to conflict within the marriage. The researcher interviewed ten Christian couples, six pastors, and held two separate focus groups to obtain substantial data regarding addressing the three research questions. To complete a thorough thematic analysis the researcher implemented Robert Yin’s (2014) five-step analysis. The data resulted in three themes in answering research question one, three themes in answering research question two, and one theme in answering research question three. Findings show that couples and pastors agree, although from different points of view, that couples that center their marriage around God rather than secular opinions about their marriage and participate in community-centered social processes (i.e., Christian-centered activities such as Bible studies or small groups), report more success in overcoming marital crises.