Complementary Definitions

Four couples in the sample had similar, but not precisely identical, interpretations of their marital situation. I have classified these couples as having complementary, rather than consensual, views of marriage roles. Sasha, for instance, described the terms husband and wife by explaining the utility and purpose of their equal division of labor. Her husband, Stephan, on the other hand, defined those same terms in a more theoretical manner, amplifying notions such as encouragement and teamwork....

Summing Up

These cases capture a particular moment in the divorce process, when uncoupling is being contemplated but has not yet occurred. Most narrative accounts of marital dissolution begin after a separation has occurred, such as in Waller's (1967 1938 ) classic exploration of divorce and in Riessman's (1990) interpretive analysis of individuals who are attempting to make sense of divorce after the fact. Our contribution has been to discern types of divorce talk at a point when both partners do not yet...

Traditional Meanings of Husband and of Wife

When asked about the meaning of wife and of husband, many interviewees drew on long-established distinctions between husbands and wives, men and women in general. This was the most popular type of response, with sixteen out of fifty-four interviewees interpreting marital labels through a traditional perspective. I labeled this category traditional simply because so many respondents referred to marriage in this just this way. Some respondents even declared their marital arrangement to be an...