Today's older couples often look and function differently than those of yesteryear. Lifespans have increased, while many health challenges remain. Retirement, spousal role equity, and family caregiving needs look different now, and cultural shifts have shaped the prevalence and visibility of nontraditional older relationships, such as same-sex relationships and "living apart-together" relationships.

With such an increased variety in relationship forms and social contexts, what does the research say about quality? What factors influence the nature and quality of today's older couple relationships, and what are the complex links between relationships and health?

In this cutting-edge volume, the authors present the latest theoretical, methodological, and empirical perspectives in the field of middle-age and older couple relationships. The chapters cover a broad range of topics, including the impact of health concerns, loneliness, chronic disease management, couple negotiation of everyday tasks, and coping across the lifespan. Implications for couples therapy and policy are included.

In short, the book makes a significant stride into understanding the strengths and challenges of older couples.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Current Perspectives on Couple Relationships in the Middle and Later Years
Jamila Bookwala

I. Nature and Quality of Older Couple Relationships

  1. Happily Ever After? Marital Satisfaction During the Middle Adulthood Years
    Barbara A. Mitchell
  2. Marital Discord in the Later Years
    Timothy W. Smith and Carolynne E. Baron
  3. Older Couple Relationships and Loneliness
    Jenny de Jong Gierveld and Marjolein Broese van Groenou
  4. Intimacy and Obligations in LAT Relationships in Late Life
    Sofie Ghazanfareeon Karlsson and Majen Espvall
  5. Same-Sex Relationships in Middle and Late Adulthood
    Bozena Zdaniuk and Christine Smith
  6. Sexual Intimacy in Mid- and Late-Life Couples
    Amy C. Lodge and Debra Umberson
  7. Spousal Role Allocation and Equity in Older Couples
    Liat Kulik
  8. These Happy Golden Years? The Role of Retirement in Marital Quality
    Amy Rauer and Jakob F. Jensen
  9. Health Contributions to Marital Quality: Expected and Unexpected Links
    Jeremy B. Yorgason and Heejeong Choi

II. Marriage, Health, and Adaptation to Illness in Middle and Late Life

  1. Marital Biography and Health in Middle and Late Life
    Zhenmei Zhang, Hui Liu, and Yan-Liang Yu
  2. Collaborative Cognition in Middle and Late Life: Couple Negotiation of Everyday Tasks
    Jennifer A. Margrett and Celinda Reese-Melancon
  3. Spousal Interrelationships in Health Across Adulthood: Health Behaviors and Everyday Stress as Potential Underlying Mechanisms
    Christiane A. Hoppmann, Victoria Michalowski, and Denis Gerstorf
  4. A Developmental Perspective to Dyadic Coping Across Adulthood
    Cynthia A. Berg, Kelsey K. Sewell, Amy E. Hughes Lansing, Stephanie J. Wilson, and Carrie Brewer
  5. Emotion Regulation in the Context of Spousal Caregiving: Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Strategies
    Joan K. Monin
  6. Chronic Disease Management in Older Couples: Spousal Support Versus Control Strategies
    Melissa M. Franks, Elizabeth Wehrspann, Kristin J. August, Karen S. Rook, and Mary Ann Parris Stephens
  7. Harnessing the Power of the Marital Relationship to Improve Illness Management: Considerations for Couple-Based Interventions
    Lynn M. Martire, Rachel C. Hemphill, and Courtney A. Polenick


About the Editor

Editor Bio

Jamila Bookwala, PhD, is a professor and head of the Department of Psychology and chair of Aging Studies at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. She teaches courses in lifespan development, aging studies, and research design and analysis.

Dr. Bookwala's primary research interests center on close relationships, stress, and well-being over the adult lifespan. A special focus of her research is on the health-protective role of close relationships. She has examined health outcomes related to a variety of relationships (spousal relationships, kin relationships, and friendships) in the context of a range of life stressors (poor physical function, visual impairment, family caregiving, and spousal loss).

Her other research interests include gender differences in adult health and well-being, ageism and attitudes toward aging, and the effects of stigma over the adult lifespan.

She has expertise in survey research and secondary data analysis using large national data sets. Her research has been funded by the National Institute on Aging and by private and public funding organizations. She has presented her research findings at national and international conferences and published her research in leading peer-reviewed journals including, most recently, Developmental Psychology, Health Psychology, Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences, and The Gerontologist.

Dr. Bookwala currently serves on the editorial board of The Gerontologist and has served on the editorial boards of Psychology and Aging and Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences. She has reviewed grant applications for the National Institutes of Health and other private and public organizations.

Dr. Bookwala received her bachelor of arts degree from St. Xavier's College, University of Mumbai, India, and a master of arts degree in psychology from the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She completed her doctoral education at the University of Pittsburgh and held a National Research Service Award postdoctoral fellowship in the Geriatric Psychiatry Division at the University of Pennsylvania from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Dr. Bookwala is a fellow of APA; chair of the Women and Aging subcommittee of APA Division 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women); and member of the Gerontological Society of America. She is past chair of the committee for the Denmark Award for Contributions to Women and Aging and of the conference program for APA Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging).

Reviews & Awards

This is a timely and much-needed book.