Original Paper

Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 773-792

First online:

The Social Construction of Love Through Intergenerational Processes

  • Kristy L. SoloskiAffiliated withKansas State University Email author 
  • , Thomas W. PavkovAffiliated withSchool of Family, Consumer, and Family Sciences, Northern Illinois University
  • , Kathryn A. SweeneyAffiliated withBehavioral Sciences
  • , Joseph L. WetchlerAffiliated withCouple and Family Therapy Center

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Love became an integral part of marriage in Western culture in the mid-1900s. Marriage began to change along with the inclusion of love, which is evidenced by changes in divorce rates. While marriages themselves change, love too may be influenced in a reciprocal process. This study was interested in identifying the association between parental relationship factors, including marital status and interparental conflict, and both the experience of and expectations for love. The sample was collected using online convenience sampling, and included (N = 207) heterosexually married participants. Hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted to determine the unique contribution of the parent marital factors on love. Higher levels of interparental conflict were associated with lower levels of love and expectations for love, while having parents who were separated was associated with higher relationship expectations. These findings can support case conceptualizations for clinical work with couples and the use of Narrative and Transgenerational therapies.


Couple’s therapy Expectations Love Marriage Relationship satisfaction Social construction