This study is a qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with thirty-two couples who have been married for eight years. Although the couples in this sample have similar religious, economic, and cultural backgrounds, the quality of each marriage is quite different. Ten couples have exceptionally high-quality marriages, eighteen have average-quality marriages, three are struggling, and one couple has been divorced. The purpose of this study was to better understand what the ten couples with high-quality marriages are doing to create successful relationships. I conclude that high-quality marriages are created by a couple's participation in a particular process with a specific paradigm that facilitates a critical characteristic. I also postulate that high-quality marriages are undergirded by three guiding principles.
A couple's environment, circumstance, and parental role models constitute the framework from which marital decisions spring, but for the respondents in this study, contextual issues by themselves neither explained nor were consistently associated with marital quality. The ten couples with the best marriages participate in a process of covenanting, communicating, and complying to heartfelt marital obligations. They tend to function most consistently from an other-centered paradigm, and have the characteristic of love as the trademark of their relationships. High-quality marriages are governed by three principles: they are mutually created, require constant nurturing, and are dynamic.
This process, paradigm, and characteristic constitute three important dimensions of high-quality marital relationships. If both couples are making choices from within this imaginary three-dimensional sphere or realm, the result is a high-quality marriage. If one spouse makes choices from within this imaginary sphere while the other spouse chooses options from outside, the resultant quality tends to be average. When both spouses are consistent in making choices outside this sphere, it constitutes the foundation of a low-quality marriage.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life



Date Submitted


Document Type





Marriage, Religious aspects