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Title:Affectionate expression in marriage: An ethnocultural and socioeconomic comparison
Author(s):Waters, Sharen
Director of Research:Ackerson, Barry J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ackerson, Barry J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Floyd, Kory; Ostler, Teresa A.; Smith, Douglas C.
Department / Program:School of Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:In exploring the lived experience of married couples with affectionate communication, this qualitative, phenomenological study employed a triangulation of data collection methods, including a questionnaire, face-to-face interviews, and two specific observational activities; a game and musical exercise to identify the meaning couples made out of their experiences with affectionate expression. Eight diverse married couples were recruited through purposive, criterion and snowball sampling efforts. Couples had been married between a minimum of 2 years and 13 years, and ranged in age from 25 to 56. Participant groups included two African American couples, two Caucasian couples, two mixed race couples where husbands were African American and wives were Caucasian, and two mixed race couples where husbands were Caucasian and wives were African American. One couple in each racial category was targeted whose total household incomes were above and below $40,000 to allow for socioeconomic comparison. Couples defined affectionate expression and it was shown that spouses demonstrated multiple affectionate behaviors with the intention of making their mates feel good about themselves and their relationships, and also to derive some personal benefit associated with showing affection. Satisfaction was explored and it was shown that spouses appreciated affectionate acts that were perceived to be selfless and sincere as opposed to routine or reciprocal, and affectionate demonstrations that were in accord with their personal preferences. When spouses received adequate amounts of affection, they felt more loved, better about themselves, closer to their spouses, more energized in their relationships, and they perceived of their relationships as stronger. Insufficient amounts or inadequate types of affection made spouses feel unloved and question their mate’s sincerity, they perceived of their relationships as being “rocky,” their mates unhappy, and they felt a general sense of unease. Findings also indicated that satisfaction with affectionate expression inversely affected considerations of divorce. Ethnocultural and socioeconomic difference were examined and not identified in the study. Salient themes of the study included the importance of verbal assurances and of selflessness, sacrifice and sincerity, as behaviors thus perceived most engendered spousal satisfaction.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Sharen Waters
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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