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Roman Catholic Couples: Wrath And Religion.

R. Marsh, R. Dallos
Published 2001 · Psychology, Medicine

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Qualitative methods were used to research the effects of the religious beliefs and practices of ten Roman Catholic couples on the ways in which they managed anger and conflict in their marital relationship. The couples were interviewed separately, twice each, using Grounded Theory techniques in the first, semi-structured interview, and Repertory Grids in the second. Religious beliefs supported a broad range of positions on anger management from self-control through to the thoughtful expression of anger. It is suggested that religious beliefs and practices can be thought of as expanding or restricting "space" by reducing the intensity of anger experienced and by providing an opportunity for reflection which enabled participants to take greater responsibility for their part in conflicts. The relationship with God affected the "space" in the couple relationship by meeting some of the unmet needs of individuals and by detouring anger away from the spouse to God where it was felt to be safely contained. This procedure was used more by wives; their husbands seemed more often to fear and avoid conflicts and the expression of anger. Links were made between the marital relationship and the relationship with God. It was proposed that these systems are both evolving interactively with changes in one resulting in changes in the other. However, there can be a delay before changes in one system can be integrated with conflicting beliefs or practices in the reciprocal system, which may result in ambivalent attitudes toward anger and conflict. Clinical implications and directions for future research were suggested.
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