Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Ecology

Document Type



Much of the research that exists on Black marriage is usually from a deficit perspective and focuses on the decline of marriages among Black Americans. Even so, many Black families are marriage based and it is unfortunate that little research exists that focuses on understanding these families from a strength-based approach. It is important that we learn what constitutes the characteristics of strong Black marriages and families and learn how Black U.S. families differ from and are similar to Euro U.S. families. This study looked at the hows, whys, and processes of enduring and sustaining marriages in Black families. Black couples were interviewed to examine strengths and characteristics that contribute to happy, strong, long-term marriage for Black Americans. A purposive sample of Black married (or remarried) couples were interviewed to identify factors and characteristics that contribute to a strong, long-term marriage. Participants in this study were 12 heterosexual Black couples (24 participants) that were married for at least 20 years. The average length of marriage for the couples was 33 years. Participants’ ages ranged from 45 years to 75 years old. The findings revealed six salient themes discussed by participants. The first four themes were relational and marital in scope. They were: (a) the influence of children on marriage, (b) the influence of faith on marriage, (c) the sources of strength for marriage, and (d) the characteristics for a strong marriage. The final two themes were more societal in scope. They were: (e) the impact of Black community on marriage, and (f) the impact of racism on marriage. These findings highlight the strengths of strong, enduring Black marriages and families. This qualitative study provided insights and understandings from the participants’ points of view, including findings that concentrated on experiences, processes, meaning and understandings of Black persons and families.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Loren Marks



Included in

Human Ecology Commons