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5 - Romantic and Marital Relationships

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2009

Frieder R. Lang
Martin Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenburg, Germany
Karen L. Fingerman
Purdue University, Indiana
Hans-Werner Bierhoff
Department of Psychology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany
Martina Schmohr
Department of Psychology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany
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According to the hierarchical model of love, Lee's (1973) love styles may be subdivided into passionate and companionate love. From the perspective of life-span theory of control that differentiates selective and compensatory control, new insights on the development of love styles are derived. The goal of partnership formation depends on age-graded opportunity structures. Age-normative factors influence the chances to fulfill tasks with respect to the initiation and maintenance of a partnership. Passionate love is more easily realized in early than in late adulthood. In later adulthood, disengagement from goals related to passionate love and increased emphasis on companionate love are expected. A review of empirical findings tends to support these assumptions.

Hardly anywhere is the rivalry between lay insights and scientific knowledge as strong as in the area of romantic and marital relationships. We all know or expect to know from our everyday experience what this kind of relationship means. We have our personal insights and implicit theories about what characterizes a successful marital relationship and about the conditions under which a romantic relationship is formed. For example, people tend to equate marital relationship with romantic love. In addition, they assume that romantic love emerges immediately after the first contact has been established (love at first sight; Averill, 1985).

Other implicit assumptions refer to the development of romantic and marital relationships across time. From self-observation we are convinced that love changes over time. We feel that a personal relationship has developed somewhat across, say, five or ten years.

Growing Together
Personal Relationships Across the Life Span
, pp. 103 - 129
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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