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Interviewer Observations

In the first three phases, interviewers were instructed to provide a commentary about each couple they interviewed upon returning from the face-to-face interview. Interviewers were told to provide any comments or thoughts they had about the couple and their relationship. This helps researchers to attend to their own subjectivity and that of the people they study by recording their own feelings, beliefs, and subjective interpretations. The significance of the interviewer notes is that interviewers are providing their fresh impressions, a sort of on-the-spot interpretation of the couples' relationship, which helps create a more detailed insight to their marriage.

Excerpts from Interviewer Observation Examples

Example 1. He's a very outgoing, domineering person. He was intrigued initially by her reserve, which gave her a mysterious air. He had a lot of experience with women, but never a serious commitment. In fact, since being hurt in a relationship, he deliberately avoided commitment for a long time, seeking revenge, as he put it, by using women for his own sexual needs. In this relationship, sex was unimportant to commitment - he expected to have sex. But it was important later, and still seems to be, in that it is an area of incompatibility. He views her as being much less interested than he. It is interesting that he talks a lot about exploring each other's values, what they expect from each other, their roles, and that living together was a trial marriage. And yet they continued to marriage despite a lot of conflict and major incompatibility in sexual relations. He talked a lot about "accepting differences" as important in the relationship - there's been a lot of accepting differences and less discovery of compatibilities. This couple appears like they've been married two years, rather than newlyweds, perhaps because living together that length of time. Satisfaction is rather low - they'd have more of a chance of surviving as a couple with counseling - without it, I think they'll break up.

Example 2. The most remarkable thing about this couple is that both sets of parents live right next door. Yet he sees them between once and twice a week. He feels his parents cling to him if he visits, and sometimes give him unwanted advice. His parents don't visit as often as he'd like - he has to go over there. This seems to be due to coflict between his wife and his stepmother - he wasn't very explicit about the reasons for the conflict - said his stepmother opposed the marriage and didn't like his wife.

The PAIR Project at the University of Texas at Austin
Principal Investigator, Ted L. Huston
Page last modified: 15 January 2002