Although research has been conducted on marriage and volunteerism in later life, little is known about the impact of volunteerism on marital quality, particularly intense volunteer experiences. Missionary couples for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) leave their homes for a period ranging from 6-18 months and dedicate the majority of their time to working in church assignments. Qualitative interviews were collected from couples who had served senior couples missions for the LDS Church and returned home in the last year. The mean age of participants was 69, and the mean length of marriage for couples was 37 years. Twelve couples were interviewed conjointly about the experience of their missions, and their perceived marital quality before, after, and during their missions. Qualitative analysis was conducted on these interviews, and several themes emerged from the data, as well as subthemes. The themes were divided into those that occurred prior to serving a mission, those that occurred during the mission, and a separate section for marital themes. Pre-mission themes included factors affecting decision to go on a mission, prior experience. Mission themes included type of mission, adjustments, things enjoyed, and things not enjoyed. Marital themes included arguments, closeness, power, and stress. Each section included an in-depth discussion of what each theme incorporated, as well as quotes from the interviews. Overall, couples felt like their missions had a positive impact on their marriages. Comparisons were done among couples serving different types of missions, as well as couples in first, second, and third marriages. Type of mission and number of marriages had little overall impact on a couple's perception of the effect of their mission on their marriage. Therapists can use these results to inform couples who are contemplating an intense voluntary experience.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage and Family Therapy



Date Submitted


Document Type





volunteerism, marital satisfaction in later life, LDS missionaries