This study investigated the phenomenology of marriage as experienced by couples who professed to enjoy a successful marriage. A qualitative approach was chosen to elucidate the multifaceted levels of experience in the marital relationship. In-depth interviews were conducted with twelve middle class, Caucasian couples from an urban area on the East Coast. Subjects were chosen from volunteers who had been married for at least twenty years and whose youngest child was out of high school. The interview covered the development of the couples' relationships from the initial attraction through the child-rearing years, and into the current post-child-rearing stage. Expectations, roles, and problem-solving were examined. Socioeconomic factors, religion, family, ethnicity, and finances were discussed as they related to the marriage. The influence of participants' parents' marriages was explored. The data collected were analyzed for salient themes, categories and critical issues in marital satisfaction. Twelve major themes emerged from the data. Of the twelve, four were salient: expectations of marriage, similarity of values, mutuality, and selective understanding. The strategy of selective understanding proved to be the core category, the one which related to the majority of other categories. These findings are useful for clinical and preventive applications, for their contribution to theories of marital satisfaction, and for guiding future research.