Masters Thesis

Religious-spiritual Identity and the Experience and Management of Relational Turbulence in Intrafaith Romantic Relationships

This thesis study investigated the experience and management of relational struggles and identity gaps in intrafaith romantic relationships. in total, 16 unmarried intrafaith partners (eight couples) participated. In-depth interviews were conducted and transcribed verbatim, and the interview data were interpreted and analyzed. Guided by the assumptions of Solomon, Knobloch, Theiss, and McLaren’s (2016) Relational Turbulence Theory and Hecht, Warren, Jung, and Krieger’s (2005) Communication Theory of Identity, the interpretive analyses revealed identity-driven relational struggles that disrupted the development of the ideal synchronized intrafaith romantic relationship. Specifically, three major struggles were identified along the trajectory of intrafaith romantic relationship development: Relational Uncertainty vs. Longing for Certainty and Reassurance, Protecting the Vulnerable Heart: Intrafaith Relational Struggles on Intimacy Boundary Regulation, and Intrafaith Relational Dilemmas on Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual Intimacy Synchronization. Three types of identity gaps accompanied relational struggles: Communal vs. Personal Identity Gaps, Communal vs. Relational Identity Gaps , and a Perceived Intra-Relational Couple Identity Gap. Finally, intrapersonal and interpersonal communication management strategies included: Intrafaith Romantic Relationship Entry Strategies and Intrafaith Romantic Relationship Development Synchronization Strategies. Chapter 5 discusses this study’s theoretical and practical contributions, limitations, and directions for future research.

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