“We-ness” in Relationship-Defining Memories and Marital Satisfaction

  • Nicole AleaEmail author
  • Jefferson A. Singer
  • Beata Labunko


Relationship-defining memories represent enduring themes in a marriage and can provide insight in to marital satisfaction (Alea & Vick, 2010). The purpose of the study presented in this chapter was to examine whether “we-ness,” compared to “I-ness,” expressed in positive and negative relationship-defining memories, were linked to martial satisfaction. Men (n = 99) and women (n = 168) in long-term marital relationships wrote about their most defining positive and negative relationship events. First-person plural (“we-ness”) and singular (“I-ness”) pronouns expressed in the narratives were counted. “We-ness” was less likely to be expressed in negative compared to positive memories. “We-ness” in negative relationship-defining memories was associated with higher martial satisfaction. The effect was particularly for women, who also had a positive association between “we-ness” in positive memories and marital satisfaction. The discussion highlights the role of relationship-defining memories, and “we-ness,” in exploring resiliency in marriage and clinical work with couples.


Relationship-defining memories “We-ness” Pronouns Marital satisfaction Gender 



The research was partially funded by a Summer Research Program for Graduate Students from the Graduate School Professional Development Program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Funding was awarded to Stephanie Vick, whom we would like to thank for assistance with data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Alea
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jefferson A. Singer
    • 2
  • Beata Labunko
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Behavioural Sciences, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of the West IndiesSt. AugustineTrinidad & Tobago
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyConnecticut CollegeNew LondonUSA
  3. 3.Clifford Beers Guidance ClinicNew HavenUSA

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