PARTNERS IN PASSAGE: THE EXPERIENCE OF MARRIAGE IN MID-LIFE
The purpose of this phenomenological study is to describe the experience of enduring marriage in mid-life. The literature reveals a lack of research about contemporary mid-life marriage, reflecting only theoretical pieces and research studies on marital happiness, factors that make a marriage successful, and variables contributing to divorce. Noticeably absent are studies conducted from a phenomenological philosophical perspective. Questioning what enduring marriage involves for individuals in mid-life served to orient the researchers to the meaning of the experience. Seventeen volunteers participated in twenty-six initial and follow-up interviews. Using van Manen's methodological structure of human science research, a composite description that reflects enduring marriage in mid-life emerged. Two essential themes that characterize the experience, The Threads that Bind Us and A Season of Change and seven sub-themes explicating these essential themes portray the partnership of enduring mid-life marriage. The themes that comprise the structure of the experience reflect its form as a relational, time-space, and corporeal phenomenon. The findings are described in detail using narrative description in order to offer a rich account of each theme, and the implications provide a direction for future research.