Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Cynthia McRae, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nicholas Cutforth, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Barbara Vollmer

Fourth Advisor

Shelly Smith-Acuna


Happiness, Long-term, Love, Marital satisfaction, Marriage, Qualitative


There has been little marital research that focuses on contributing factors to successful long-term marriage and even less focus on the role that love plays in long-term marriage. As a means of furthering this research, the purpose of the current study was to examine levels of satisfaction in couples in long-term marriages and to identify contributing factors to an enduring marriage. This study also examined the significance of love and changes in love after 35+ years of marriage. Through the use of qualitative methodology five couples who were self-identified as "happy" in their marriage and who had been married at least 35 years were interviewed. Each couple was first interviewed together and then each spouse was interviewed separately. As might have been expected, couples defined happiness in their marriage in ways that are similar to what they identified as being the "key" to their marriage. Compromise, faith/religion, forgiveness, communication (ability to talk things through and resolve conflict), spending time together, and sharing common interests were common themes identified among the couples as being the "key" to their enduring marriage. Other aspects of positive marital experience that were mentioned, but not as frequently, were sharing the same values, maintaining romance, being tenacious, being considerate of each other, showing appreciation, trust, and patience, limiting arguments/disagreements, and respecting one another. Each spouse identified love as being an important aspect of their marriage and stated that it was why they stayed in their marriage. However, none of them identified love as being the "key" to their enduring marriage. All of the spouses mentioned a change in love over the course of their marriage, whether it was the type of love, meaning of love, feeling of love, or development of love. This study has implications for couples therapy and has contributed to research in love and happiness in long-term marriage and positive psychology.

Rights Holder

Rebeca Isabel Estrada


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

131 p.


Clinical psychology