Marriage Recovery Research

Welcome to the Marriage Recovery Research Project.

The Marriage Recovery Research Project is based in part on the Favors Life Recovery Series Curriculum and Overcoming Setback Series Curriculum.

This research project is new and in development. Sample series topics will always include the Big Five personality traits, goal orientation, mindset, parenting styles, mate value, and mate switching.

However, the research will focus primarily on John Bowlby’s concepts of secure base, attachment theory, and maternal deprivation theory as well as concepts related to psychopathology, psychoanalysis, and cognitive behavior theory. The list is not exhaustive.

A unique aspect of the Marriage Recovery Research Project will center on marriage and attachment, marital indifference, marriage as a secure base, and marriage as a refuge. Researching why romantic partners cheat is just as important as studying why they cheat consistently and return home to their marital partners and to the marriage by extension.

The Marriage Recovery Research Project will develop tentative research questions, an annotated bibliography, and the outlines of potential journal articles.

It is not clear if audio lectures that apply psychology concepts to the project will be necessary, but such audio lectures might be central for processing the information when considering moving from marriage setback to marriage recovery.

This project would be ideal for marital and long-term partners struggling with a romantic partner who continues to cheat despite warnings and has moved into a state of infidelity. A partner who has cheated once and who has no longer cheated within the marital and/or long-term romantic relationship would not be a primary subject of study.

Instead, the partner who says, “I want to come home,” but still decides to step out of the marital bed and cheat repeatedly would be a primary subject of study. It is suggested that the latter partner may have attachment issues that prevent him or her from sticking to the marital vows. The unmarried long-term romantic partner would be considered because there is an implicit vow to stay and remain committed to the relationship.

The development of content is tentative and subject to change.

Last revision 10/7/2021, 1/23/2023, 4/17/2023

Mission Statement

The mission of the Marriage Recovery Research Project is to initiate a study of marital infidelity, create research questions, design a survey/measure, and develop an annotated bibliography. The project may or may not proceed after initial research.

Tentative Description

The Marriage Recovery Research Project is formed to study the following phrase: marriage as a secure base.

For the better part of three years “marriage as a secure base” has been a subject of interest and tentative outlining followed. However, there has been no consistent undertaking to study the phrase and/or consider how to approach the subject matter.

However, the word “refuge” surfaced as a possible term for understanding why marriage would be a secure base for a romantic partner who consistently cheats, committing infidelity, but returns to the marital home, the marital bed, and to the marriage proper.

Understanding that marriage might be the equivalent to a refuge for some marital partners brought the phrase “marriage as a secure base” to the forefront, which resulted in conducting preliminary research based on keyword searches.

Thus, “Marriage as a Secure Base for Infidelity, Distinguished from Cheating” became an ideal focus of study considering that there could be a possible answer to why romantic partners cheat and their consistent justification for doing so.

Secure Base Defined

John Bowlby connects “secure base” to attachment theory. Bowlby defines the term as a relationship with a sensitive and attachment figure, who may be a parent or a caregiver. For example, a child may feel secure with his or her “secure base” because the parent or caregiver meets the child’s needs and the child believes the parent or caregiver to be a safe haven particularly when feeling distressed. Attachment can be either secure or insecure, resulting in different reactions from a child whose needs are met or not met.

Development of this section is forthcoming. Last revision 3/10/2022.

Tentative Hypothesis

Marital and long-term, cohabitating partners use marriage as a secure base to commit infidelity because marriage represents a refuge, a stable location upon which cheating partners can return. The affair partner is not a refuge.

Research Question(s)

The following research question(s) may help to guide this project. Here is a tentative research question:

Why does a marital or long-term romantic partner continue to cheat in a marriage or long-term romantic relationship, despite warnings?

It is assumed that marital or long-term romantic partners may cheat for numerous reasons, but connecting attachment to infidelity might be a useful strategy. However, this strategy might be considered repetitive.

Conducting the annotated bibliography will determine if this research might be redundant.

Preliminary Thinking

The following questioning, outlining, and categorizing are considered in this research process. Definitions are wholly adapted.


Infidelity is defined as the action or state of being unfaithful to a spouse or other sexual partner. It is also defined as unbelief in a particular religion, especially Christianity.

  1. But the cheating person chooses marriage even though he or she doesn’t believe in marriage?
  2. If the cheating partner is not dissatisfied with the relationship, then cheating may be useful for what reason?


To cheat means to act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, especially in a game or examination. The term also means to avoid something undesirable by luck or skill.

Synonyms for “cheat” include avoid, escape, evade, elude, steer clear of, dodge, and duck.

They’re not steering clear of marriage because they return to it after their cheating incidents.

  1. Therefore, “what” are they steering clear of?
  2. What is the cheating part of the relationship?
  3. What and why are they cheating?

To cheat means to desire exit. They don’t want to exit the marriage, per se.

  1. What do they want to exit?
  2. They want to exit the attachment?

Cheaters want the theory of marriage, but they do not want the practice of marriage.

Five Questions for Good Research

The following questions derive from an Internet search of the concept of developing research questions:

  1. What is the problem to be solved?
  2. Who cares about this problem and why?
  3. What have others done?
  4. What is your solution to the problem?
  5. How can you demonstrate that your solution is a good one?

These questions will be answered at a later date. However, one or more solutions to the problem might consider the reasons why a person cheats consistently because that person has attachment issues. If this is true, then cognitive behavior therapy might be a solution.

Tentative Survey Questions

The following tentative survey questions serve as a guide for how to conduct human subjects research, which will require approval through a participating institution.

  1. Are you married or cohabitating with a long-term romantic partner?
  2. How long have you been married or cohabitating with a long-term romantic partner?
  3. Have you cheated in your marriage or in your long-term romantic partnership?
  4. Does your romantic partner know you have cheated in your marriage or long-term romantic partnership?
  5. What did your spouse or long-term romantic partner do after this knowledge?
  6. Did you or your partner return to the marriage or long-term romantic partnership?
  7. Did you cheat again after you and your marital or long-term romantic partner return to the relationship?
  8. Age
  9. Demographics
  10. Comment

It is clear that the survey questions are too wordy and need revising, but they serve as a possible guide for how to form better survey questions.

The survey may need to be structured as a Likert scale. For example, the following question might be useful for supporting this strategy:

  1. How likely are you to cheat on your partner again?

The Likert scale is more useful for scaling responses in survey research.

Keyword Search Results

The following sources are based on a preliminary keyword search to begin categorizing references and hopefully categorizing the research:

Marital Indifference

Abbasi, I.S., & Alghamdi, N. G. (2016). Polarized couples in therapy: Recognizing indifference as the opposite of love. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 43(1). Retrieved from

Alternate Link:

Canel, A. N. (2013). The development of the marital satisfaction scale (MSS). Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 13(1), 97-117. Retrieved from

Futris, T. G., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2013). The National Extension Relationship
and Marriage Education Model: Core teaching concepts for relationship and marriage enrichment programming. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Available from

Hsieh, N., & Hawkley, L. (2020). Loneliness in the older adult marriage: Associations with dyadic aversion, indifference, ambivalence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 35(10), 1319-1339. Retrieved from

Hymowitz, K., Carroll, J. S., Wilcox, B., & Kaye, K. (2013). Knot yet: The benefits and costs of delayed marriage in america. The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Retrieved from

Irving, R. W. (1994). Stable marriage and indifference. Discrete Applied Mathematics, 48, 261-272. Retrieved from

Kachadourian, L. K., Fincham, F., & Davila, J. (2005). Attitudinal ambivalence, rumination, and forgiveness of partner transgressions in marriage. Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 31(3), 334-342. Retrieved from

Liu, Y., & Upenieks, L. (2020). Marital quality and well-being among older adults: A typology of supportive, aversive, indifferent, and ambivalent marriages. Research on Aging, 43(9-10). Retrieved from

Sage Pub Link:

Lundberg, S., & Pollak, R. A. (1996). Bargaining and distribution in marriage. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 10(4), 139-158. Retrieved from

Luo, S., & Klohnen, E. C. (2005). Assortative mating and marital quality in newlyweds: A couple-centered approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(2), 304-326. Retrieved from

Pecker, G. S., Landes, E. M., & Michael, R. T. (1977). An economic analysis of marital instability. Journal of Political Economy, 85(6), 1141-1187. Retrieved from

Scott, E. S. (2000). Social norms and the legal regulation of marriage. Columbia Law School. Retrieved from

Sharaievska, I. (2012). Family and marital satisfaction and the use of social network technologies. Dissertation. University of Illinois-Champaign. Retrieved from

Stritof, S. (2020). Saving your relationship when your marriage hurts. Retrieved from

Vernick, L. (n.d.). Is marital indifference emotionally abusive? Retrieved from

Weiss, Y. (1997). The formation and dissolution of families: Why marry? Who marries who? And what happens upon divorce? Handbook of Population and Family Economics. Retrieved from

Related Search Results

Research the following at a later date: theories of marital conflict, effects of marital conflict, factors that lead to marital instability

Factors That Lead to Marital Stability/Instability

Heaton, T. B. (2002). Factors contributing to increasing stability in the united states. Journal of Family Issues. Retrieved from

Lehrer, E. L., & Son, Y. J. (2017). Marital instability in the united states: Trends, driving forces, and implications for children. Retrieved from

Maciver, J. E., & Dimkpa, D. I. (2012). Factors influencing marital stability. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 3(1). Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/regin/AppData/Local/Temp/10977-Article%20Text-41811-1-10-20200419.pdf

Alternative Link:

Mueller, C. W., & Pope, H. (1977). Marital instability: A study of its transmission between generations. Journal of Marriage and Family, 39(1). Retrieved from

Marriage and Attachment

Hollist, C. S., & Miller, R. B. (2005). Perceptions of attachment style and marital quality in midlife marriage. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Retrieved from

MacLean, A. P. (2001). Attachment in marriage: Predicting marital satisfaction from partner matching using a three-group typology of adult attachment style. Thesis. Purdue University. Retrieved from

Alternative Link:

Alternative Link:

Marcus, L. (1997). The relationship of adult attachment style, communication, and relationship satisfaction. ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9730100. Retrieved from

How to Get Paper Published

Fried, P. W., & Wechsler, A. S. (2001). How to get your paper published. The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, 121(4), 53-57. Retrieved from

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