Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Older women-Psychology, Widows-Psychology, Autonomy (Psychology) in old age, Remarriage-Psychological aspects, Widowhood, Elderly, Independence, Relationships, Repartnership, Older adults, Late life


This study investigated older women's perceived independence in late-life post-widowhood repartnerships and sought to better understand the ways in which repartnership impacted these women's sense of independence. Using a qualitative, exploratory design, the study adds to this relatively unexplored topic. Heterosexual women who had lost a spouse and become re-partnered at the age of 65 or older were recruited from across Massachusetts. Ten repartnered women ages 73-93 participated in this study. In face to face interviews they were asked a series of questions focused on the following themes: 1) negotiation of shared and separate time, activities, space, resources, tasks and friendships in re-partnership; 2) decision making and compromise in re-partnership; 3) perceived independence in re-partnership; 4) perceived independence in previous marriage; and 5) perceived independence during widowhood and time spent alone. Participants had multiple subjective definitions of independence. The majority felt independence could be maintained while choosing to make compromises in order to have companionate romantic relationships that impacted aspects of their autonomy. Others created stricter boundaries within romantic relationships to protect the autonomy gained during widowhood. Nearly all participants described a strong sense of perceived independence in their repartnerships and reported that this was stronger than in their previous marriages.




iii, 83 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 73-76)