Claude A. Guldner is a professor of family studies at the University of
This little booklet is apparently the first of a series on the family, designed for high school family studies or sociology classes. Its goal is to serve as a discussion starter for classes or small seminars. The opening gives a positive review of the state of current marriages, challenging the pessimism so popular in the recent press. More families stay together than dissolve in divorce. However, what is the quality of those relationships? This booklet reports on a research study which strives to determine the qualities in lasting marriages. Dr. Schlesinger and nine social work students from University of Toronto, School of Social Work, selected 129 couples for the study. Sixty-two couples were interviewed in depth and sixty-seven couples responded to a questionnaire only. Out of the material, the researchers were able to define those items that couples found important in their marriage. The top four items were: respect for each other, trusting each other, loyalty, and willingness to make sacrifices. In terms of the couple interaction, the two top indicators were comfort with each other and being friends. It was also interesting that both men and women chose the top four factors in the same order — love, mutual respect for partner, trust, and communication. Men put loyalty fifth, whereas women ranked it as eleventh. Perhaps this still reflects some past views of male-female relationships. The last part of the booklet is devoted to statements from individuals in the sample which illustrate something of the quality they were looking for and found in lasting marriages. The researchers defined a lasting marriage as: a first marriage surviving at least 15 years, where there is at least one child. Also, the spouses had not considered separation. Readers will find this a handy summary of the reported research and brief reviews of past research on lasting marriages.