Date

8-17-2011

Document Type

Article

Department

Counseling Department

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair

Victor Hinson, Ed.D.

Primary Subject Area

Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Keywords

Marriage, Satisfaction, Togetherness, Attitude, Action, Work, Commitment

Disciplines

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

This phenomenological study investigated the subjective marital experiences of five couples married for more than forty years. Select participants responded to interview questions pertaining to the phenomena of marriage satisfaction and marriage longevity. Participants completed the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) to assure the phenomenon of satisfaction was experienced in the marriage.

The data was collected using semi-structured, conversational, recorded, transcribed interviews in which the participants were interviewed separately by same-sex interviewers within the participant couples’ homes. The marriage experiences and answers were compared and contrasted.

Two major themes emerged from the participants’ descriptions of satisfaction: “Togetherness” and “Children/Grandchildren.” Additionally, two major themes emerged from the data in reference to marriage longevity. These were “Attitude,” referring to the mind-set participants brought to their marriage relationship, and “Action,” referring to the work and effort participants invested in the marriage relationship. Subthemes emerging from “Attitude” included an “Attitude of Commitment,” “Attitude of Respect,” and “Attitude of Humor.” Subthemes emerging from “Action” included “Act of Communication,” “Act of Compromise,” and “Act of Support.” The theme “Sense of Security” emerged as a fiber that was woven throughout satisfaction and the factors contributing to marriage longevity.

This study has implications for premarital education, clinicians treating married couples, and personal growth. Suggestions for future study include expanding geographical area and ethnicity of participants for a more diversity-based approach.