Spiritual Stress and Coping Model of Divorce: A Longitudinal Study

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Abstract

This study represents the first longitudinal effort to use a spiritual stress and coping model to predict adults' psychosocial adjustment following divorce. A community sample of 89 participants completed measures at the time of their divorce and 1 year later. Though the sample endorsed slightly lower levels of religiosity than the general U.S. population, most reported spiritual appraisals and positive and negative religious coping tied to divorce. Hierarchical regression analyses controlling general religiousness and nonreligious forms of coping indicated that (a) appraising divorce as a sacred loss or desecration at the time it occurred predicted more depressive symptoms and dysfunctional conflict tactics with the ex-spouse 1 year later; (b) positive religious coping reported about the year following divorce predicted greater posttraumatic growth 1 year after divorce; and (c) negative religious coping reported about the year following divorce predicted more depressive symptoms 1 year after the divorce. Bootstrapping mediation analyses indicated that negative religious coping fully mediated links between appraising the divorce as a sacred loss or desecration at the time it occurred and depressive symptoms 1 year later. In addition, moderation analyses revealed that negative religious coping is more strongly associated with depressive symptoms among those who form high versus low appraisals of their divorce as a sacred loss or desecration. These findings are relevant to divorce education and intervention provided by professionals in legal, family, mental health, and clerical roles. Implications are discussed for clinical and counseling psychology and religious communities.

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