Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

Major Professor

Vincent Anfara Jr.

Committee Members

Robert Kronick, Marianne Woodside, Priscilla Blanton


The purpose of this study was to examine the development of long-term marriages lasting 25 years or more. Six couples were interviewed using a qualitative case study methodology using the nine task model created by Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1995) as the theoretical framework. This study sought to understand how couples in long-term marriages demonstrated utilizing Wallerstein and Blakeslee’s nine tasks, and if they identified any new tasks, a hierarchy, and any changes to the definitions of the tasks. Data were collected through interviews, observations, and a survey. Multiple themes were developed for how participants utilized the nine original tasks in their long-term marriages. In addition, four new themes, (1) the ability to compromise, (2) having outside support, (3) planning for the future, and (4) having similar backgrounds are discussed. A hierarchy was developed determining that the three most important tasks were: (1) providing comfort and support; (2) keeping a sense of humor and shared interests; and (3) building togetherness, intimacy and autonomy. The two least important tasks included: (1) keeping in mind why and how you fell in love, and (2) separating from family of origin. There were changes in three definitions of the tasks including (1) separating from family of origin, (2) keeping a sense of humor and shared interests, and (3) keeping in mind how and why you originally fell in love. Findings also indicated the need for communication, time, and love to be present before any of the developmental tasks can be utilized in a long-term marriage. Recommendations are provided for future research on long-term marriage.

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