A Qualitative Study of Marriage and Marital Satisfaction of African American Couples: Past and Present

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)



Date of Award

Spring 2015


A transcendental phenomenological study (Moustakas, 1994) was used to explore and describe the lived experiences of marriage (past and present) between heterosexual African Americans in which one or both of the individuals grew up in a single parent household. Additionally, within the context of marriage, the researcher explored the factors that lead to marital satisfaction and the definition of marriage for each participant.After an extensive review of the literature, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 participants, seven husbands and seven wives. Moustakas's (1994) method for conducting qualitative transcendental phenomenological research was utilized for data collection, preparation of data for analysis, and reporting of findings. The Modification of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen Method Analysis of Phenomenological Data (Moustakas, 1994) was used for data analysis by (a) finding the meaning units of the experiences, (b) organizing the units into themes, and (c) blending the units and themes into a description of the participants' experience. The results of this analysis revealed seven themes: (a) applying childhood experiences, (b) openness and trust, (c) sexual expectations, (d) raising and influencing children, (e) transitioning from single to married life, (f) turning struggles into marital growth, and (g) the journey together. Seven subthemes were also revealed that related to the main themes that added deeper meaning to the participants' lived experiences: (a) developing communication skills, (b) being emotionally transparent, (c) establishing boundaries with other family members, (d) finding a balance between dependence and independence, (e) commitment to the marriage, (f) leaning on faith, and (g) companionship and friendship. KEY WORDS: African American, marriage, marital satisfaction, single parent household


Amir Abbassi

Subject Categories

Counseling | Social and Behavioral Sciences