Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

For Keeps: Marriages That Last a Lifetime

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

For Keeps: Marriages That Last a Lifetime

Article excerpt

For Keeps: Marriages That Last a Lifetime. Finnegan Alford-Cooper. Armonk, NY: Sharpe. 1998. 232 pp. ISBN 0-7656-0122-2. $59.95 cloth, $19.95 paper.

Finnegan Alford-Cooper's survey of couples married for 50 or more years adds to the growing literature on long-term marital relationships. She used a nonrandom sample of 576 couples living on Long Island and interviewed a subsample of 60 of the couples. The combination of survey and indepth interviews makes this research unique.

About a fourth of the couples were married during the Great Depression, and most of the rest married during World War II. Such a sample allows Alford-Cooper to make cohort comparisons in order to identify the impact of social location on marital relationships. She found a number of differences between the cohorts. For example, war-era couples reported more problems raising children. They mentioned things like the hippie movement, drugs, sex, and the questioning of authority. Couples who married in the peak years of the Depression (1930-1932) were less likely than those married before or after to identify the years after children were born as their happiest. Depressionera couples reported more problems with the husband's not working. War-era couples reported more problems with children and their sexual relationship. War-era couples reported lower levels of conflict resolution than Depression-era couples. Such findings underscore the significance of social context for understanding marital processes and issues.

There are no surprises in Alford-Cooper's conclusions about the factors involved in the stability of the marriages. Like others, she finds that stability doesn't necessarily translate into satisfaction. …

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