A Qualitative Inquiry into the Mediating Role of Religion and Spirituality in Adjusting Marital Relationships of Infertile Women

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 a) Associate Professor, Research Center for Patient Safety, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran b) Department of Midwifery, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Professor, Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, UK

3 Professor, School of Health & Social Care, School of Health & Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK


Background and Aim: Despite growing body of literature regarding marital adjustment of infertile women, to our knowledge, there is no study to address the role of religious and spiritual beliefs in adjusting marital relationships in infertile women. Considering the significance of marital cohesiveness and commitment in the long and stressful journey of infertile women, this study was designed to explore how marital relationships are experienced by infertile women who affiliated to different religious faiths.
Methods: A group of 30 infertile women affiliated to different denominations of Christianity (Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodoxies) and Islam (Shiite and Sunni) were interviewed. The design was a grounded theory study including semi structured in-depth interviews. Data were collected in one Iranian and two UK fertility clinics through theoretical sampling and analyzed using Strauss and Corbin’s mode of grounded theory. 
Results: Religious infertile women using a religious/spiritual meaning-making framework tried adjust their marital relationships through going the following phases: being optimistic and positive, having supportive relationships, being grateful and appreciated for their marital life, offering spiritual sympathy and adopting religious role models. These strategies aided infertile women to be more understanding, sympathetic and gentle towards maintaining the family cohesion.
Conclusion: I argue that awareness of health professionals of the potential ways in which religion and spirituality assist infertile women to deal with their marital issues could be important. This knowledge will help them to support emotional wholeness and integrity of infertile women, offering religious and spiritual coping strategies which can help adjusting their marital relationships.


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