Publication details

Beyond success : Understanding the characteristics of long-term relationships in older age.

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Year of publication 2024
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Family Psychology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Keywords long-term relationships; marriage; older couples; later life; Czech Republic
Description Prior research has focused on couples who were successful in maintaining a long-term relationship. However, there is a knowledge gap in what characterizes late-life long-term partnerships and what holds them together. Using the grounded theory, we analyzed 29 interviews with 65+ year olds (11 men, age median = 72) who were in relationships of 25+ years. We explored the present state of the relationship, looking beyond the understanding that long-term relationships, by virtue of being long, are successful. Older people saw their partnerships as indivisible, without implying that they were satisfied and, despite challenges, preferred to sustain them (a) because alternatives were perceived as poor, (b) too much would be lost, and (c) to maintain the status quo and maintain calm at every cost. Feeling indivisible implied “entrapment” to some. Others felt that peace-eliciting stability and security were enhanced by the accumulated joint experience of the partners. The findings challenge the view that later life long-term relationships are the outcome of success and point to mechanisms that keep couples together at older age.
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