The research on which this book is based is part of our studies of adult relationships that last and also includes marriage ( Mackey and O'Brien 1995). Similar to our other studies, the study of same-sex relationships used a qualitative and phenomenological approach to study the histories of seventy-two partners (respondents) from thirty-six relationships that had lasted at least fifteen years. An interview format was developed after a review of the research literature; the semistructured interview was pretested by the researchers. Collaborative researchers conducted additional pilot testing and provided feedback that led to further refinement of the interview guide. The guide was divided into four major sections: the relationship, social influences including economic and cultural factors, their parents' marriages, and respondents' experiences and views of their relationships over time, which was subdivided into the early years, the middle years, and the recent years. The objective was to acquire in-depth information from the perspectives of individual partners in order to develop an understanding of how they adapted over the life span of their relationships.
An open-ended style of interviewing was followed in order to allow for freedom of expression ( Kvale 1983). Focal questions were used to elicit information from the unique perspectives of each respondent.