Reconceptualizing marital commitment: An interpretive interactional, qualitative study

Date of Completion

January 1993


Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies




This exploratory qualitative study examines marital commitment by systematically conducting and analyzing individual and conjoint interviews with married and cohabitating couples. This study employs a post-positivist research philosophy, the methodology guidelines of Interpretive Interactionism (Denzin, 1989), and two well-established qualitative analysis methods--grounded theory (Glasser and Strauss, 1967) and Heideggerian interpretative hermeneutics (Heidegger, 1962). Eighteen commitment narratives are produced by hermeneutic analyses. Grounded theory analyses reveal a three-part structure of marital commitment (concepts, intentions, and commitment-relevant behaviors), and three stages of commitment that exist during the average 18.7 years of the informants' marriages. Other findings identify antecedent conditions of marital commitment, gender differences in commitment, and the informants' hierarchies of competing life commitments. Recommendations are made concerning the use of the study's findings in marital therapy assessment and treatment, and the use of the study's methods in exploring marital and relational commitments in the future. ^