Good marriages confer benefits to partners and offspring such as increased mental, emotional, and physical well-being, longevity, and improved academic ability. Conversely, dysfunctional unions may hurt partners and contribute to increased risk of psychological problems, suicide, physical diseases, addiction, promiscuity, and a shortened lifespan for adult offspring and their progeny. Given high divorce rates and a cultural trend of marriage for self-fulfillment, fewer know how to cultivate and maintain high-quality long-term marriage partnerships. This project examined the perspectives of couples in long-term high-quality marriages to identify factors contributing to marital success. Snowball sampling was used to recruit 19 heterosexual participants in first marriages of 24 to 61 years for a phenomenological study on long-term marriage. They were interviewed by phone or in-person about what was easy or challenging about getting married, the best and most challenging parts of being married long-term, what helped or made it difficult to stay married, factors maintaining the marital bond in times of stress or helping to avoid stress, as well as topic-related experiences they desired to share. NVivo computer software was used in coding answers to interview questions. Open coding, axial coding, and selective coding of 15 hours of interviews and 124 pages of transcripts were used to create themes and overall concepts to answer the four research questions. Results included the importance of marital education programs like worldwide Marriage Encounter to maintain or restore intimacy. Happiest couples had developed spiritual interest activated as self-givingness and sacrifice for the beloved. Covenant attachment, an adaptation of John Bowlby’s attachment theory, and the Two-Dimensional Model provided a guiding framework. Polishing the stone of self is difficult, yet the love of mate and/or God inspired beneficial behavior. Longitudinal studies that follow couples over time are recommended for future research.
|Commitee:||Circo, Deborah, Bradley, Peter|
|Department:||School of Psychology|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 82/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Psychology, Sociology, Behavioral Sciences|
|Keywords:||ACES, Attachment, Couples, Marriage, Partnerships, Relationships|
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