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Moving from Ambivalence to Certainty: Older Same-Sex Couples Marry in Canada*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 May 2013

Áine M. Humble*
Mount Saint Vincent University
Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à: Áine M. Humble, Ph.D. Department of Family Studies and Gerontology Mount Saint Vincent University 166 Bedford Highway Halifax, NS B3M 2J6 (


A qualitative study, within a life course perspective, explored the transition into marriage for mid- to later-life same-sex couples. Twenty individuals (representing 11 couples) were interviewed – 12 lesbians, seven gay men, and one bisexual man. At the time of their marriages, participants were between 42 and 72 years old (average age: 54) and had been with their partners from six months to 19 years (average: 7.5 years). Three processes highlighted the ways in which these same-sex couples’ experiences of deciding to marry were influenced by their life course experiences. First, individuals had to integrate marriage into their psyches (integration). Second, they had to consider why they would marry their specific partner (rationale). Third, the study participants demonstrated how their experiences of wedding planning and their wedding characteristics were imbued with intentionality as a result of lifetime experiences of homophobia and/or heterosexism (intentionality).


Une étude qualitative, dans la perspective du parcours de vie, a exploré la transition vers le mariage pour les couples de même sexe au milieu ou plus tard dans la vie. Vingt personnes (soit 11 couples) ont été intérrogées – 12 lesbiennes, sept hommes gais, et une homme bisexuel. Au moment de leurs mariages, les participants avaient de 42 à 72 ans (âge moyen: 54), et avaient vécu avec leurs partenaires entre six mois à 19 ans (moyen: 7,5 ans). Trois thèmes soulignent la manière dont les expériences de ces couples de même sexe, en décidant de se marier, ont été influencés par les expériences dans leurs parcours de vie. Premièrement, l’intégration: les individus ont dû integrer le mariage dans leur psychisme. Deuxièmement, la justification: ils ont dû demander pourquoi ils se marient avec leurs partenaires spécifiques. Le troisième thème était la déliberation: les participants à l’étude ont demontré comment leurs expériences de planification de mariage et les caractéristiques de leurs noces etaient impregnées à la suite de leurs expériences conscientes de vie en ce qui concerne l’homophobie et/ou l’hétérosexisme.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2013 

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This study was funded by an internal standard research grant from Mount Saint Vincent University.


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