Destination marriage? The diagnostic role of rituals in dating relationships

Christopher R. Maniotes, Brian G. Ogolsky, Jennifer L. Hardesty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The decision to marry is complex, often with seemingly innocuous events impacting a partner’s marriage eligibility. Engaging in rituals is one area where couples have the opportunity to see their partners in a new light as well as assess commitment. Although rituals have impactful roles in married couples, there is a dearth of research on ritual activity in dating couples. A qualitative approach was used to explore how rituals act as facilitators or barriers to commitment to wed using data from a random sample of dating couples in a diverse Southwestern region of the U.S. Results showed that celebration and tradition rituals played a contextual role in magnifying the importance of three normative relationship features: family interactions, relationship awareness, and conflict management. Experiencing these relationship features during a ritual time highlighted the uncertainty inherent in determining marriage eligibility with a current partner and enhanced the information gathering process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3102-3122
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Commitment
  • dating
  • marriage
  • rituals
  • uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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