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The Power of the PastUnderstanding Cross-Class Marriages$

Jessi Streib

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199364428

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199364428.001.0001

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Appendix C Interview Questionnaire

Appendix C Interview Questionnaire

The Power of the Past
Oxford University Press

Matching Mechanisms

  • Will you tell me the story of how you met your partner?

    • First impressions?

    • Reason for first attraction?

  • Before you met your spouse, what characteristics were you looking for in a partner?

    • Was there anything in someone you dated in the past that you were trying to get away from?

  • What made you think this was someone you wanted to marry?

  • What did your friends and family first think about your partner? What do they think now?

Engagement and Wedding

  • Tell me about the wedding planning.

  • Tell me about the wedding.

  • Tell me about some of the decisions you and your partner first made as a married couple.

Life Together

  • How are you and your partner most alike? Most different?

  • How do you think being in this relationship has changed you?

  • How do you think being in this relationship has changed your partner? (p.240)

  • What compromises do you feel like you’ve made in your relationship?

  • Do you think you and your partner are mostly alike or mostly differently when it comes to your ideas about the following? Please explain your answer.

    • Gift giving?

    • Holiday rituals?

    • How to spend money on yourself? On your kids? On your family as a whole?

    • The types of food you like to eat?

    • How your home should look?

    • Your politics?

    • Ideas about work?

    • Things to do on the weekend?

    • How to spend vacations?

    • Other people to spend time with?

  • What do you admire about your partner?

  • All couples disagree about some things. What types of things do you and your partner disagree about?

    • How do you resolve these disputes?

  • What types of things have you learned from your partner?

  • What types of things do you think your partner has learned from you?

  • Who do you think has changed more?

  • On a scale of 1–10, how satisfied are you with your marriage?

  • If you could change one thing about your marriage, what would it be?


  • Tell me about your in-laws.

    • What were your first impressions?

    • Do they have any customs that you aren’t (or weren’t initially) used to?

    • How are your moms alike? Different? Your dads?

    • How has your relationship with them evolved over time?


  • Tell me about your children.

  • What personality traits do you appreciate in your children?

  • What personality traits do you think your children get from you?

    • From your spouse?

  • What kind of activities does your child do? (p.241)

    • How did you decide on these?

    • Are there any activities your child has ever wanted to do that you’ve not allowed?

  • What type of elementary and high school do you want your child to go to?

    • How did you decide on this?

  • Do you have a career goal for your child?

    • How would you feel about them doing your father’s job?

    • Your father-in-law’s job?

  • What are some life lessons you hope your child learns?

  • How do your ideas of how to parent compare to your partners’ ideas?

    • Can you tell me about a time when you and your partner disagreed about what or how to teach your child?

    • How did you work out the differences?

  • What is the most important thing you can do as a parent to make sure your child turns into the adult you would like them to be?

  • Has your child ever befriended someone you disapprove of?

    • What did you not like about this person?

    • What did you do when your child was hanging out with that person?

  • Has your child ever dated someone you disapproved of?

    • What did you not like about this person?

    • Can you tell me about someone your child has dated that you’ve really liked?

  • What could be the biggest thing your child could do to rebel?

  • Since your child was born, how have your ideas about parenting changed?

Life before Your Relationship

  • Tell me about the family you were born into.

  • Is there anything about your childhood that stands out to you as being particularly formative?

  • Describe the neighborhood(s) you grew up in.

  • How was your family similar to other families in the neighborhood?

    • Different?

  • What were some of the activities you did outside of school while growing up?

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?

  • Tell me about what school was like for you.

    • What type of elementary school did you go to? High school?

  • Did you go to college? What was it like?

    • How did you pick your major?

  • What values did your parents instill in you?

  • Do you disagree with any of your parents’ values? (p.242)

    • If so, which ones?

  • Do you feel more similar or different than your parents?

Direct Questions about Class (mostly for different-origin couples)

  • When did you first realize that you and your partner were from different class backgrounds? What made you think so?

  • Before agreeing to this interview, did you think much about being from a different class background than your partner?

  • Before you met your partner, did you have many friends from a different class background?

  • Before you met your partner, did you date people mostly from your partner’s class background?

    • Did you also date people from your own class background?

  • What did your grandparents do?

  • What class would you say you grew up in? Why?

  • What class would you say you’re in now? Why?

  • Is there any advice you’d give to those who marry someone from a different class background?

  • Looking back on it, is there a time when you remember learning of your family’s class position?

    • How did you find out/figure it out?

  • Many people who are upwardly or downwardly mobile say they never fully feel comfortable in their new position. They sometimes describe this as experiencing permanent culture shock, or that they’re straddling two worlds. Did you feel this way at one time?

    • Do you still feel this way?

Demographic Questions

  • What was your father’s job when you were growing up?

  • What was your mother’s job when you were growing up?

  • What was your parents’ marital status?

    • If they were divorced, how old were you when the divorce took place?

    • Which parent did you live with?

    • If they divorced, did your parents remarry? What was their occupation and highest level of education?

  • What was your father’s highest level of education?

  • What was your mother’s high level of education?

  • Did your parents own a home? (p.243)

  • What is your own occupation?

  • What are some of your previous occupations?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • [If respondent went to college] Where did you go to college?

  • What is your religion?

  • How long have you been married?

  • Were you married to anyone before this person?

    • What was his/her occupation?

    • What was his/her highest educational level?

    • What did his/her father do?

    • What was his/her father’s highest educational level?

    • Why did you get divorced?

  • Where is the last vacation you went on?

    • Did you take vacations when growing up?

  • What are some of the places you went to?

    • Where is your favorite place you’ve ever been on vacation?


  • Is there anything else you think I should know about your background or your marriage?

  • How do you feel about the interview?

  • Do you have any questions for me?