First Advisor

Hugo Maynard

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Lesbianism, Marriage



Physical Description

1 online resource (75 p.)


Research findings on marriage as a heterosexual institution were reviewed and research was carried out to determine if certain of them were applicable to lesbian “marriage” as well. Marriage was defined as a relationship in which two people have lived together with strong emotional and sexual involvement for a year or more. Subjects were volunteers from among women age 22 or older, who were childless, and who were involved in the women's movement, as well as their friends, lovers and husbands. There were 14 lesbian couples, 14 lesbians who has never been married and 6 lesbians who had been married but weren’t currently and who were involved in a sexual relationship at the time of the study. Subjects were asked to fill out various forms, including (not all subjects completed all the forms) a questionnaire of background information; Interpersonal Checklists on actual-self, ideal-self, lover or spouse, how they think their spouse (or lover) sees them, how they think their spouse (or lover) sees herself (himself); a Security-Insecurity Inventory; a Marital-Roles Inventory; and a Socioemotional Valuation Index.

Results indicated that for this population of lesbians and heterosexuals:

  1. Homogeneous trait matching occurs among lesbians so that a mate is chosen who is perceived as resembling the self (p≤.005). The evidence did not support the theory of ideal-self-fulfillment, proposed by Karp, Jackson and Lester, for lesbians;
  2. Married lesbians do not score higher in insecurity on a Security-Insecurity test than never-married lesbians, the average score for this sample being almost exactly the same (single lesbians scoring higher). There is insufficient evidence to conclude that heterosexually married women score higher in insecurity than married lesbians though results were in the expected direction (p≤.15);
  3. Marital satisfaction is higher among lesbians than among women involved in a heterosexual marriage (p≤. 05);
  4. There is insufficient evidence to conclude that spouses in lesbian marriage make more nearly equal amounts of adjustment than do spouses in heterosexual marriage, though results were in the expected direction (p≤. 1). Although none of the hypotheses concerning interpersonal perception and marital satisfaction were supported by the evidence it was tentatively concluded from looking at the pattern of the results that lesbian marriages are not split into roles so that one partner is assigned the instrumental, task-oriented roles and the other the expressive, integrative roles.


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