Doctor of Ministry

Year Approved


First Advisor

Parolini, Jeanine


Deaf people in America have become increasingly recognized in recent years as a distinct community. While Christianity within the Deaf community has a recorded history dating back some five hundred years, little is known regarding pastoral care for Deaf people and in particular, guidance in marriage preparation. In spite of the plethora of research on marriage preparation, little attention has been paid to Deaf couples and marriage preparation-its efficacy for them in enhancing marital satisfaction and avoiding divorce. This project addressed the inaccessibility of premarital-care resources in the church for Deaf couples whose first language is American Sign Language (ASL). Using case study methodology, ten Deaf married couples were interviewed about their experiences with premarital care. Four central issues were addressed: (1) the couple’s attitudes toward premarital care, (2) the perceived competency of the care provider, (3) the process and approach(es) of premarital care that the couple received, and (4) follow-up provided by the care provider. The results of the interviews were analyzed, and three major themes emerged: (1) Deaf couples had little understanding of the potential benefits of premarital care, (2) Deaf couples judged the competency of their care provider by their perceptions of the provider’s credentials and Deaf-awareness, and (3) Deaf couples faced significant accessibility challenges in receiving premarital care. Using the three themes that were identified, recommendations for practical ministry application were offered. First, parents and families must work to create a culture of marriage in the home, taking into account the unique communication needs of their Deaf family member. Secondly, to assist families in this endeavor, churches must establish and transmit a culture of marriage within their communities. Thirdly, churches must open their doors to Deaf couples, taking into account the need for effective communication, Deaf awareness among clergy, and accessible premarital materials.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Document Type

Doctoral thesis