Choice, Chance, or Circumstance: A Qualitative Study of Never-Married and Once-Married Women's Marriage Beliefs in Midlife
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The theoretical framework that guided this study combined a life course approach with a feminist perspective. Respondents were recruited through extensive networking and the sampling technique of snowballing. A qualitative methodology was employed utilizing the research strategy of in-depth interviewing. Data were analyzed on the basis of emergent themes and patterns.
This study produced 3 salient findings. First, the process of forming core marriage beliefs is similar between never- married and once-married women. Although an experience of marrying (or an experience of not marrying) may change the way a woman views herself within the context of her marital beliefs, those core marital beliefs do not necessarily change. Second, whether never-married or once-married, single midlife women live ambivalent lives: acknowledging their singlehood status while simultaneously remaining hopeful of attaining a marital union. Finally, women made a clear distinction between getting married and marrying successfully. While most believed that getting married was a choice, having a successful marriage was a result of chance. Despite this appraisal, the ideal of marriage remained pervasive regardless of age or past experience.
- Masters Theses