Masters Thesis

Identity Management and Conflict Negotiation in Interfaith Marital Communication: A Qualitative Study

This thesis explored the identity management and identity negotiation processes in interfaith marital communication. Sixteen marital partners participated in this study. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, interpreted, and analyzed. Guided by Identity Management Theory and Identity Negotiation Theory, the thematic analysis results highlight the development of the interfaith relational identity through the co-creation of a superordinate spiritual and value system, an implementation of relational boundaries to prioritize the relational identity, and the identification of key milestone decisions (i.e., wedding plans and children socialization coordination) interfaith partners face. Three dialectical tensions along the trajectory of turbulent developmental events were uncovered: Negotiating the Uncertainty-Familiarity Dialectic: Birth and Coming of Age Religious Rituals, Negotiating the Identity Differentiation-Relational Connection Dialectic: Holiday Religious Rituals, and Negotiating the Openness-Closedness Boundary Dialectic: Death Rituals and End of Life Arrangements. In addition, seven communication strategies associated with the dialectics were identified: accommodation, ambiguity, evasion tactics, parallel integrative strategy, creative compromise, temporary acquiescence, and dodging postponement. A retrospective assessment of interfaith marriage revealed three mixed emotions operating within the relationship: Affective Resignation-Wistfulness Emotion, Pride-Remorse Hybrid Emotion, and Upholding Relational Vision-Valuing Identity Distinctiveness Emotion.

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