Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2022

Document Type

Thesis (699 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Counseling


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Taryn Akgul


counseling, phenomenology, body image, relationship satisfaction, interpersonal development, middle-aged women


The purpose of this study is to examine the connection between positive body image and relationship satisfaction with middle-aged women. Current research (Ambwani & Strauss, 2007) suggests body image and relationship satisfaction has a bidirectional influence. However, much of the current research focuses on a younger demographic, and middle-aged women are often a neglected population. This study seeks to better understand the interpersonal nature of healthy development in body image and relationships in middle-aged women. A phenomenological approach is utilized to observe the lived experiences of middle-aged women in committed relationships with positive body image. Six participants, between the ages of 36-65, were interviewed regarding positive body image and relationship satisfaction. Themes were identified within the three foci: positive body image, relationship satisfaction, and influence. The identified themes for positive body image include critical thinking, spiritual beliefs, positive relationships, function-focused, and acceptance. The identified themes for relationship satisfaction include commitment, supportive communication, enjoyment, and shared beliefs. The identified themes for influence include positive body image influences romantic relationship satisfaction and romantic relationship satisfaction influences positive body image. Findings suggest that the relationship between body image and relationship satisfaction is indeed cyclical. Most middle-aged women in this study saw the connection between positive body image and relationship satisfaction as integrated.



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