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Financial Issues in Strong African American Marriages: A Strengths‐Based Qualitative Approach

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Family Relations / Family Relations Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies

Published online on


Objective We examined the role financial issues played in African Americans' marriages using a strengths‐based perspective. Background Few studies have examined the importance of finances in African Americans' marriages. Those that have done so have mostly focused on money as a stressful contextual problem. Allowing African American couples to describe their own marital experiences expands our understanding regarding the interface of finances and relationships. Method Using qualitative data from 37 African American couples (N = 74 individuals) who felt they had strong marriages, we took a phenomenological approach to identify themes in the data. Results Many participants portrayed money as a stressor. Furthermore, participants discussed financial behaviors and attitudes that helped their marriages be strong. Finally, participants described transcending, or rising above, financial issues. Conclusion The participants in this study, African Americans who felt they were in strong marriages, talked about the marital role of finances in multiple ways. It was clear that they actively strived to shape the way that financial issues influenced their marriages, whether through making decisions that would help them financially and relationally or by shifting their focus to more important matters like the well‐being of family members. Implications These findings offer researchers new ideas about the intersection of money, family, and race, and show diversity among African American couples. The findings may also help practitioners recognize both the circumstances by which finances are stressors in some African American marriages, and how some African American couples navigate financial challenges while maintaining strong relationships.