“We-ness” in Relationship-Defining Memories and Marital Satisfaction
- 1.1k Downloads
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.
KeywordsRelationship-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.
- Alea, N., McLean, K., C., & Vick, S. C. (2010). The story of us: Examining marital quality via positive and negative relationship narratives. In K. S. Pearlman (Ed.), Marriage: Roles, stability and conflicts (pp. 1–29). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
- Aron, A., & Aron, E. N. (1997). Self-expansion motivation and including other in the self. In S. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of personal relationships: Theory, research, and interventions (2nd ed., pp. 251–270). Chichester, UK: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Belove, L. (1980). First encounters of the close kind (FECK): The use of the story of the first interaction as an early recollection of a marriage. Individual Psychologist, 36, 191–208.Google Scholar
- Gottman, J. M., & DeClaire, J. (2001). The relationship cure. New York: Three Rivers Press.Google Scholar
- Pennebaker, J. W. (2011). The secret life of pronouns: What our words say about us. New York: Bloomsbury Press.Google Scholar
- Pennebaker, J. W., Francis, M. E., & Booth, R. J. (2001). Linguistic inquiry and word count (LIWC): LIWC2001. Mahawah, NJ: Erlbaum Publishers.Google Scholar
- Reid, D. W., Dalton, E. J., Laderoute, K., Doell, F. K., & Nguyen, T. (2006). Therapeutically induced changes in couple identity: The role of we-ness and interpersonal processing in relationship satisfaction. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 132, 241–284.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Singer, J. A., Labunko, B., Baddeley, J. L., & Alea, N. (2015). Mutuality and the Marital Engagement –Type of Union Scale [ME (ToUS)]: Empirical support for a clinical instrument in couples therapy. In K. Skerret & K. Fergus (Eds.), Couple resilience across the lifespan – Emerging perspectives. Springer.Google Scholar
- Singer, J. A., & Salovey, P. (1993). The remembered self: Emotion and memory in personality. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Singer, J. A., & Skerrett, K. (2014). Positive couple therapy: Using we-stories to enhance resilience. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- SurveyMonkey. (1999). SurveyMonkey software (professional subscription) for data collection. Retrieved from http://www.surveymonkey.com