Living in the gray: Women's experiences of missing the marital transition

Elizabeth A. Sharp, Lawrence Ganong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Given the increasing trend of women delaying (or forgoing) marriage and the minimal scholarship on women's reflections of their life course trajectories, the purpose of the study was to examine the lived experience of White, college-educated women aged 28 - 34 years who have not married. Using descriptive phenomenology methodology, 32 interviews were conducted with 10 never-married women. Results suggested that their experiences were marked by uncertainty. The women were intensely reflecting on their life pathways, evaluating themselves, and enacting strategies to manage the pervasive uncertainty they felt. Implications about life course expectations and decisions, coping strategies, and experiences of "missed" transitions and related consequences are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-844
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Life course
  • Life transitions
  • Never married
  • Phenomenology


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