Sacrifice and Self‐Care as Relational Processes in Religious Families: The Connections and Tensions

AuthorDavid C. Dollahite,Hilary D. Pippert,Loren D. Marks
Published date01 December 2019
Date01 December 2019
H D. P Kansas State University
D C. D  L D. M Brigham Young University
Sacrice and Self-Care as Relational Processes in
Religious Families: The Connections and Tensions
Objective: This study seeks to explore ways that
members of religious families (of Abrahamic
faiths) struggle with and address the relational
processes of sacrice and self-care.
Background: Sacrice and self-care inuence
human relationships, and as such, every human
has to learn how to engage in them. Familiesare
one of the many communities in which one must
address sacrice and self-care.
Method: This study provides a qualitative
exploration of sacrice and self-care among
a sample of 198 highly religious (Abrahamic
faiths) families. In-depth analyses explored
motivations, types, and related family processes
among family relationships.
Results: A conceptual model illustrates sac-
rice and self-care in family life using an
interdependence theory approach. Five themes
from the data about how families perceived
and addressed these relational processes are
discussed: (a) tensions between sacrice and
self-care, (b) motivations for sacrice and
self-care, (c) types of sacrice, (d) types of
self-care, and (e) processes in faith and family
Discussion: Religious beliefs may shape how
sacrice and self-care processes are perceived
and potential tensions are addressed through
either positive or negative ways. We suggest that
School of Family Science and Human Services, College of
Health and Human Sciences, Kansas State University, 303
Justin Hall, Manhattan, KS 66502 (
Key Words: interdependence theory, qualitative, sacrice,
self-care, tension.
engaging in sacrice and self-care with equal
quality, not quantity, might be a positive way
to address the emergent tensions between these
Implications: Through an increased under-
standing of the connections and tensions
between sacrice and self-care, researchers and
practitioners will be able to better recognize
how families positively address these tensions
and collaboratively build resources to help fam-
ily members harmonize engagement in sacrice
and self-care to benet relationships.
According to the Pew Research Center (2018),
73.4% of Americans identify with one of the
three Abrahamic faiths: Christianity, Islam,
and Judaism. Each faith has roots in the story
of Abraham as explained in respective books
of scripture (e.g., Torah, Old Testament, and
Qur’an). In this story, God often asked Abraham
to sacrice, including moving to a distant land
and culminating in the commandment to ritually
sacrice his son (which was prevented by a
last-minute intervention in which God provided
an alternative animal for the sacrice). The
prevalence of these faiths in the United States
and their shared basis in a story of sacrice and
family life provide an intriguing context for
studying the interplay of religiosity, sacrice,
and self-care.
Current research on sacrice focuses on
dyadic dating or marital relationships rather
than the whole family (Impett & Gordon, 2008;
Whitton, Stanley, & Markman, 2002). Similarly,
the relationship between religiosity (e.g., the
534 Family Relations 68 (December 2019): 534–548

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