An exploratory study of the meaning of marriage for African Americans

Melissa A. Curran, Ebony A. Utley, Joel A. Muraco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Using specific tenets from symbolic interactionism as a frame, we asked 31 African Americans (18 women and 13 men) including students as well as nonstudents, across a variety of types of relationships and ages, what marriage meant to them. Two major themes, commitment and love, emerged from qualitative content analysis of the meaning of marriage. Other themes, including partnership= friendship, trust, family, and covenant, also emerged as themes, although less frequently. The overwhelming meanings of marriage were positive, with only a few negative instances (i.e., marriage as unnecessary and not fulfilling). Supportive qualitative data are presented for each theme. We discuss implications for the meaning of marriage for African Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-365
Number of pages20
JournalMarriage and Family Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • African Americans
  • Commitment
  • Love
  • Meaning of marriage
  • Relationships
  • Symbolic interactionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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