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When two become one: Exploring identity in marriage and cohabitation

By OnePlusOne, 24 August 2015 Behaviour change, Civil partnerships, Cohabitation, Marriage, Strengthening relationships, Transitions

Periods of transition such as marriage or moving in together can be exciting times but they can also bring challenges, and the changes they bring can impact individuals. In this study the authors are looking at relationship transitions – cohabitation and marriage – and what significance they have for people’s sense of identity.

Despite demographic changes over recent years, marriage still remains the norm; and since identity is largely constructed through relationships to others, it stands to reason that marriage will have a significant impact on this aspect of the self. Using that data from 38 in-depth interviews with individuals who were married or cohabiting for the first time, the authors were able to gain an insight into the process of identity change that occurs at this time.

Participants described an identity shift from “I” to “we” which was associated with social and personal changes in how they understood themselves. Although viewed as positive transitions, there was a sense that marriage in particular did pose a challenge to personal identity. Participants managed this change by attempting to keep some aspects of the pre-married self, such as hobbies and social circles, which was seen as linked to improved marital quality.

Read the full report here.

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