You learn something new every day.

Of a more serious nature, but still just as good.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ok so I guess I'm posting it anyway...

Naked Native has convinced me to post my paper anyway. Like I said, I just did what was assigned.

Here it is, yo.

On “Intact Marriages in Which One Partner
Dis-Identifies with Experiences of Same-Sex Attraction: A Follow-Up Study”
Mark A. Yarhouse and Robin L. Seymore

Heterosexual marriages in which one member experiences same-gender attraction have not been extensively studied. In an attempt to gain more knowledge on this subject, Yarhouse and Seymore gathered qualitative information on the experiences of these couples. This is a one-year follow-up study in which 15 couples from the original study completed a questionnaire.
All thirty participants were white, and their ages ranged from 30 to 50. Of those who experienced same-gender attraction, ten were male and five were female. All couples reported attending church (Protestant Christianity) nearly every week, and some attended more than once a week. Two of the couples identified as LDS.

Participants were asked various questions, some of which required rating items on a given scale, and others which involved choosing from a list of answers. Questions included such items as reasons to keep the marriage intact, best things about the marriage, worst things about the marriage, how enjoyable sex is, whether or not partners have had affairs during the marriage, what led up to the affairs, how religion helps the marriage, current degree of happiness, and what the couples expect for the future. There tended to be majority responses, but many participants reported exceptions to their answers, especially on the questions about sexual enjoyment and frequency.

Because the couples in this study were quite similar (in race, religious attendance, culture) the results tended to be fairly regular with all or most couples answering questions in a similar manner. The conclusions drawn from the results of this study may be very useful and highly applicable for other American, white, religious couples. However, these results are quite limited in that they don’t incorporate couples who are of different races, cultures, or religious affiliations. The age range doesn’t include young couples who are just starting off, or older couples who have been together for many years. Thus, the success of these marriages at a younger or older age is unknown. Perhaps further study should be done with other age groups, nationalities, cultures, and religions.

The types of questions that were asked were good general questions that covered basic elements of the marriage. Emphasis was placed on happiness and mutual efforts to maintain a healthy marriage; affairs and the events and feelings leading up to them were also discussed. Participants were allowed to expand and explain their responses, which added to the amount of information gleaned from this study. Religion was only touched upon briefly (perhaps too briefly), though couples indicated that it was a major factor in the success of a marriage. Asking questions about specific beliefs that were helpful to the couples could have been informative.

Parenting, a large part of marriage and family relationships, was not discussed at all. Many questions could have been asked such as, “Have you ever explained the characteristics of your marriage to your children? At what age?” or, “How well do you get along with each other when it comes to disciplining children? What types of problems arise?” Eight of the participants mentioned parenting as one of the most difficult parts of the marriage, yet the study failed to discuss it any further than that.

Another flaw in this study is that it focused on the partner that experienced same-gender attraction. Obviously, this partner is the one who brings an extra “variable” into the marriage, if you will, but it is just as important to understand the other partner. What type of background does he or she bring into the marriage? Has he or she had experiences in the past with people who experience same-gender attraction? What does this partner do to be an understanding spouse? Both partners have to cope with same-gender attraction in his or her own way, and it is important to discuss both sides.

Not only was the research very narrow in its spectrum of culture, religion, and race, but it was also biased toward successful mixed-orientation marriages. This study looks at why some of these marriages work. However, it might be useful to look at why some of these marriages fail. It’s not a very optimistic view, but sometimes things are best defined as what they are not, rather than what they are. Researching unsuccessful mixed-orientation marriages could reveal a lot of information. Furthermore, couples would be able to learn from the mistakes of others.

One other point that this study failed to discuss was whether or not both partners were aware of feelings of same-gender attraction before their marriage. If partners were to discover such attractions later in the marriage, what would happen? Would they cope? Would the marriage fall apart? Such a variable could make a huge difference.

All in all, this study was helpful in gaining information for a specific group of people. It had good basic questions that allowed for full responses. However, because it lacked a broad dynamic range and it failed to discuss some important issues, more research would have to be done to make any broad statements about these wonderfully unique marriages.


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