Enduring Love?

Couple Relationships in the 21st Century

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The Enduring Love? survey was designed to generate statistical data on relationship satisfaction and the experience of couple relationships in the 21st Century. It also included free-text questions which aimed to open out the research agenda, listening to what participants identified as the 'things' that made their relationship work.

The survey is now closed. It was completed by over 5000 people and we are currently analysing all these data.


Participants in the in-depth study will keep a personal diary for one week, writing down the events and everyday activities that relate to the couple relationship. Diaries will also provide a space for personal reflections on media representations of ‘the couple’ and other relationships that are encountered during this week and the individual’s responses to these different representations.

Emotion maps

Emotion map, ground floorEmotion map, first floor

Emotion maps aim to chart how couples interact with one another. To create emotion maps, individuals will place ‘emoticon’ stickers on a floor plan of their home to indicate where different kinds of interactions take place, between the couple and wider family network. This method will be completed over the same one week period of time as the personal diary.

Photo-elicitation interview

In the photo-elicitation interview couples will be interviewed together and asked to talk about eight collages of images on different aspects of long-term relationships. Participants will be encouraged to respond to the images and to reflect on how these connect with/diverge from their own personal experiences and/or opinions on the meanings of enduring relationships.

Individual interview/s

Separate interviews with both individuals in the partnership will be undertaken. The interview will begin with a discussion of the emotion maps and diaries that have been produced, talking through the interactions that have been identified and the language used to describe feelings and relationship practices. It will then move on to focus on the individual’s biographical narrative, exploring personal experience of enduring couple relationships and how this experience is understood in the context of wider networks of family and friends. It will also include discussion of any sources of support and advice that couples may have turned to in troubled times.

A practical guide for researchers on how to complete the methods used in the Enduring Love? project is available as a working paper.

Contact us

For further details on the project and all media enquiries, please contact: 

Principal Investigator

Professor Jacqui Gabb

Chair of Sociology and Intimacy



The Open University
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
School of Social Sciences and Global Studies
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes