Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Kurt M. Gehlert; Salina Renninger


Marriage has been a significant part of Western society for centuries and continues to hold a constant presence in the world. The institution of marriage offers many benefits, and understanding healthy relationship qualities can help couples become better equipped to build meaningful, lasting marriages. While much research has focused on divorce and the negative consequences of this phenomenon, less is known about marriages that remain intact. The aim of this study was to discover the psychology of happy, long-term married individuals with children by looking at the significant dimensions of marriage across time. This research generates a grounded theory toward understanding the characteristics and contributing factors of long-term marital satisfaction; what impact children may have on marriage; and the gender ideology of husbands and wives. To determine a level of marital happiness, participants completed the Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale. Semi-structured interviews were then completed with 10 eligible participants. The interviews were analyzed by the primary investigator and a team of three researchers using a grounded theory methodology, as well as borrowed components of consensual qualitative research. Ten categories emerged from the data. Embedded within these categories were 23 themes and 12 subthemes. Specific categories were: Investing in Marriage, A Close and Meaningful Connection, Cohesiveness, Effective Communication, Resiliency – Coping Together through Adversity, Social Connectedness, Religion and Spirituality, Transitioning Together Across the Life Course, Gender Ideology, and Impact of Previous Family Dynamics. The nuances of these results are illuminated by participants’ quotes. This research may contribute to the body of research on couples’ satisfaction and adaptation, which may offer practitioners general treatment considerations when working with married couples. Strengths and limitations, clinical implications, and implications for future research are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.