''Til Death Do Us Part:' Marital Aftermath of One Spouse's Near-Death Experience Page: 207
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"Til Death Do Us Part:' Marital Aftermath
of One Spouse's Near-Death Experience
Rozan Christian, Ph.D.
Janice Miner Holden, Ed.D.
University of North Texas
ABSTRACT Research has revealed that following a near-death experience
(NDE) a majority of experiencers (NDErs) change fundamentally in values, re-
ligious/spiritual beliefs, and relationship to paranormal phenomena. Much less
is known about the relationship between aftereffects of one spouse's NDE and
subsequent marital adjustment and stability. In this preliminary retrospective
study, we addressed this question quantitatively with supplementary narra-
tive data. Using the framework of John Gottman's (1999) Sound Marital House,
we analyzed self-reported adjustment in and stability of the marriages of 26
NDErs before and after their NDEs compared to the marriages of 26 people
before and after a self-identified life-changing event (LCE) unrelated to NDEs.
Results indicated a significant reduction in marital meaning (p = .008), adjust-
ment (p = .007), and stability (p = .005) in NDE compared to LCE couples, with
a majority of NDE (65%) but only a minority of LCE (35%) couples' marriages
ending in divorce. Implications for health professionals are discussed.
KEYWORDS: near-death experience, marital adjustment, marital satisfaction,
marital stability, John Gottman's Sound Marital House, couple counseling
In studies of people who have survived a close brush with death,
whereas a majority of survivors has reported no memory of anything
unusual or unexpected, 17-35% have reported a near-death experience
(NDE; Zingrone & Alvarado, 2009). The most-published researcher of
NDEs, psychiatrist Bruce Greyson, has defined the phenomena as
Rozan Christian, Ph.D., LPC, was a doctoral student in the Counseling Program
at the University of North Texas while conducting the research for her dissertation
on which this article is based. She is currently in the private practice of counseling
in Dallas, TX. Janice Miner Holden, Ed.D., LPC-S, LMFT, NCC, is Professor of
Counseling and Chair of the Department of Counseling and Higher Education at the
University of North Texas, Denton, TX. Correspondence regarding this article should
be sent to Dr. Christian at email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journal of Near-Death Studies, 30(4), Summer 2012 2012 IANDS
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Christian, Rozan & Holden, Janice Miner. ''Til Death Do Us Part:' Marital Aftermath of One Spouse's Near-Death Experience, article, Summer 2012; Durham, North Carolina. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc938084/m1/1/: accessed December 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .