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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

The experience of never-married women in their thirties who desire marriage and children.

Author: Cole, Marcy L.
Author Background: Inst For Clinical Social Work (Chicago), US
Date 4/2000
Type Dissertation
Journal Title: Dissertation-Abstracts-International-Section-A:-Humanities-and-Social-Sciences
Volume/Pages Vol 60(9-A): 3526
Subject Matter Research, Women, Marriage; Never Married; Parenthood Status, Single
Abstract This study explored the experience of never married, childless women, who desire marriage and children. Twenty-five women, between the ages of 29- 39, were interviewed. The data was gathered, coded and analyzed, using Grounded Theory Methodology; with the philosophical influence of Lincoln and Guba's naturalistic inquiry. Seven categories of experience were uncovered. The thirties decade, is a prolific time in the lives of many women. In the absence of having a close and committed intimate relationship, some women in their thirties, who yearn for such, experience their singleness with painful regret of the past, deprivation in the present, and fear of the potential for loneliness, isolation and unrecognized dreams of the future. Others approach being single with greater ease, empowerment, faith, and optimism. The latter group experiences in it this way via their innate ability, or by a conscious process of working through the various challenging emotions this predicament stirs. The central finding featured the emergence of three distinct groups of women that varied in their experience of their single status. Some suffered with acute distress about being single; others described a volatile affective experience; while some shared their capacity to maintain a healthy self-image and fulfilling quality of life as a single individual. The results also reported the perceived advantages and disadvantages singlehood; inter-personal shifts related to their single status; circumstances when many women feel stigmatized by their single status; coping strategies employed for dealing with the challenges of singlehood; and lessons learned about self and about what constitutes potential for a healthy and long-lasting relationship. The researcher compared the results of this study with Robert Kegan's theory of adult development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2000 APA, all rights reserved)