This study Investigated factors underlying marital stability in twelve working class couples who had been married at least twenty years, and whose youngest child was eighteen or older. A qualitative approach was used to elucidate the meaning of each individual's experience of marriage, with a focus on gender differences. Marriage was conceptualized developmentally in three phases: 1) pre-child rearing; 2) child rearing; and 3) post-child rearing. A semi-structured interview was used to elicit information regarding initial attraction, expectations, roles, communication, problem-solving, handling interpersonal differences, child rearing, intimacy, sexuality, relationship variables (understanding, sensitivity, respect, trust) and equity with regard to each phase. The influence of external factors (finances, ethnicity, culture), religion, and participants' families of origin on the marital relationship were discussed as well. Nine salient themes emerged from the data: initial attraction, expectations, marital behavior (including child rearing), relatedness, values, finances, influence of family of origin, marital satisfaction, and change over time. Relatedness was the core category, encompassing eight other themes: positive regard for the relationship, intimacy, relationship variables (understanding, sensitivity, respect, trust), communication, style of handling interpersonal differences, marital conflict, equity, and sexuality.