Title page for ETD etd-05112011-160023

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Jordal, Christian Edward
Author's Email Address cjordal@vt.edu
URN etd-05112011-160023
Title “Making it Work”: A Grounded Theory of How Mixed Orientation Married Couples Commit, Sexually Identify, and Gender Themselves
Degree PhD
Department Marriage and Family Therapy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Allen, Katherine R. Committee Chair
Few-Demo, April L. Committee Member
Kaestle, Christine E. Committee Member
Keeling, Margaret L. Committee Member
  • Bisexuality
  • gender
  • marital commitment
  • mixed orientation marriage
Date of Defense 2011-04-27
Availability unrestricted
Married bisexuals who come out to their heterosexual partners do not invariably divorce. This qualitative study included 14 intact, mixed orientation married couples. The mean marriage duration was 14.5 years, and the mean time since the bisexual spouse had come out was 7.9 years. The research focused the negotiation processes around three constructs: (a) sexual identity; (b) gender identity; and (c) marital commitment. Dyadic interviews were used to generate a grounded theory of the identity and commitment negotiation processes occurring among intact mixed orientation married couples. The findings revealed two sexual identity trajectories: Bisexuals who identify before marriage and reemerge within marriage; or bisexuals who do not identity before marriage but who emerge from within marriage. Two gender identity processes were reported: gender non-conformity and deliberate gender conformity. Finally, two negotiation processes around marital commitment were found: (a) closed marital commitment, and (b) open marital commitment. Closed marital commitment was defined as monogamous. Open marital commitment had four subtypes: (a) monogamous with the option to open; (b) open on one side (i.e., the bisexual spouse was or had the option to establish a tertiary relationship outside the marriage); (c) open on both sides or polyamorous; and (d) third-person inclusive (i.e.. couples had or were seeking a third person to bring into their marriage for both spouses). The implications for research and clinical practice were discussed.
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