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Lauren Delozier, Katelyn Leonard, Kathryn M. Thompson, Daniel L. Hatch, Ph.D. & Tony Zschau, Ph.D. North Georgia College & State University, Dahlonega, GA.

Contentment in marriage is putting your own self-interests aside for the better of the relationship. Contentment is also an attempt to convey a sense of intimacy with your spouse. The socioeconomic status of couples, values stressed early on in childhood, culture-southern hospitality, accommodation towards a goal, a lack of monetary interests, and the differences between gender inequality all contribute to this sense of contentment within the marriage. Previous research on contentment suggests that the emotional functions and character of marriage have become crucial for contemporary marital happiness and marital stability as other sources of satisfaction or the idea of being content (Bumpass 1990; Cherlin 2004). Women are usually vested in the emotional quality of their marriages because they have the primary burdens of family life. Their stake in the emotional character of marriage is rooted in gender patterns of childhood socialization that encourages female perfectionism and sensitivity towards emotional dynamics in relationships (England and Farkas 1986; Maccoby 1998; Thompson and Walker 1989). The purpose of studying contentment in Appalachian marital satisfaction is to understand why these Appalachian marriages are so strong and why the marriages in this region appear to remain steadfast. Since little is known as to what constitutes a “strong” or “healthy” marriage in the Appalachian region, this ongoing research project will not only create a better understanding of Appalachian family dynamics but also, try to preserve an important element of the local Appalachian culture. Moreover, the main goal of this research is to analyze the meanings and the factors associated with “strong” marriages in the region. The ultimate goal of the project is to understand the ways in which strong marriages in this region differ from strong marriages in the dominant American culture. The data was found using the following three questions: What does a strong marriage mean to people in the Appalachian region, what factors strengthen or weaken marriages, and what differenced and what differenced and similarities exist between strong marriages in dominant culture and strong marriages Appalachian culture. These questions are guided and interconnected in the research to understand and explain the differences between marriage in Appalachian region and marriages in other regions. The methods used for the “contentment” project are purposive sampling of selected participants, each marriage partner interviewed separately, interviews using a pre-designed questionnaire with many probes to get a deeper understanding, and an open-answer style interview. Interviews were recorded and transcribed using a specific template. The transcriptions were then coded and analyzed with a qualitative approach to the date utilizing inductive and deductive schemes. Appalachia had not been studied to this extent but current research has shown negative attributes of the culture. The researchers sought out to negate these negative attributes and educate others on the positive attributes of those in the Appalachian culture. Our results imply that various factors play a role in a couple’s overall contentment in marriage. Most spouses interviewed seemed to express a sense of gratitude when their partners showed an attempt to reach a common goal. The attempt to try is almost as satisfying as actually reaching said goal. The enrichment of the relationship comes from the desire to please one another.


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  • Event location
    • Open 3rd Floor

  • Event date
    • 4 April 2013

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Hatch & Dr. Zschau