Document Type

Honors Paper


Jefferson Singer

Publication Date



“We-ness” refers to a couple’s mutual investment in their relationship and in each other, involving reciprocity and prioritization of the relationship. The goal of this study was to examine We-ness through relationship narratives called “We-Stories” constructed by couples, and to develop a coding system to identify the core thematic elements that make up these narratives. Couples who self-identified as “happy” (N = 53) generated We-Stories and completed measures of relationship satisfaction and mutuality. These stories were then coded using the We-Stories coding manual developed by the researcher in conjunction with their supervising professor. Findings indicated that security, an element that involves aspects of safety, support, and commitment, was overwhelmingly present, appearing in 58.5% of all narratives. This element was followed by the elements of pleasure (49.1%) and shared meaning/vision (37.7%). The frequency of these particular elements suggests that the relationship aspects that happy couples value most are a solid trusting foundation, a genuine enjoyment of and love for their partners, and the visualization of a larger shared purpose in their lives. Number of “We-ness” elements was also correlated with and predictive of discrepancy scores on measures of relationship mutuality, indicating the validity of the We-Stories coding manual. Limitations and future directions are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.