Thrice Told Tales
Married Couples Tell Their Stories
Routledge – 2003 – 246 pages
Researchers have studied marriage for decades, but how is the transition to married life actually experienced by the couples involved? From an insider's perspective, Thrice Told Tales examines married couples' own stories of their relationship. A representative sample of 199 African-American and 177 White married couples were asked to tell the story of their relationship. It provides accounts of courtships, weddings, honeymoons, their adjustment in the early years, and hopes for the future. These stories were first collected a few months after their weddings, and again in the third and seventh years of their marriages.
What features of their relationship do the couples highlight as central in the early years? How do their stories change over time? What can we learn about couples' marital well-being by analyzing their stories? How do the stories of men and women, and of White and African-American couples differ? These questions were systematically addressed using extensive coding schemes and comprehensive quantitative analyses. Details of the coding system and procedures are included, making this volume a useful reference for any researcher contemplating analysis of narrative data. However, the key points are also explained in simple prose and illustrated with quotes from the couples' own stories, making the book accessible to anyone with an interest in how young couples experience married life today.
"The book has two key strengths. First, the reader has an opportunity to learn about the ebb and flow of marriage through the voices of married couples during early, significant transitions. The discussion about gender and ethnic differences is especially helpful. Second, the authors provide readers with a sound qualitative methodology, making this a useful refernce for researchers."
"I would strongly advise every family researcher to read this book. It provides the invaluable advantage of using narratives in doing family research."
Contents: Preface. Introduction. A Narrative Approach to Relationships. The Early Years of Marriage Project. Newlyweds' Stories. Beyond the Honeymoon: Changes in Narratives Over Time. Tales of Love and Woe: The Interconnections Between Relationship Narratives and Marital Well-Being. Changing Our Yesterdays: Reconstruction of Early Relationship Memories. Gender as a Factor Affecting Narratives. Ethnicity as a Factor Affecting Narratives. What Have We Learned About Marriage? What Have We Learned About Narratives? Appendices.