The Husband: Navigating the Relational Challenge Of Her Institutionalization Or His Widowerhood. By: Soulsby, Laura K.; Thompson, Edward H.; Bennett, Kate M. Journal of Family Issues. Jan2022, Vol. 43 Issue 1, p47-72. 26p.

Marital status is central to one’s identity. Using interview data from US husband caregivers and British widowers, we explore how men’s relational identity as husband is maintained despite challenges as, and after, marriage ends. These data, analyzed using the constant comparative method associated with constructionist grounded theory, corroborate that the work of being married is key to identity maintenance for husbands and that the married relationship and its associated responsibilities affirm a sense of self as a man. Marriage shelters men, providing a secure place for that self-perception as a man. But a wife’s institutionalization in long-term care or widowerhood threatens the ontological security offered through marriage and prompts identity work. We extend the literature in finding that (former) husbands attempt to retain their long-term relational identity and thus remain sheltered by marriage. They reconstruct masculinity-affirming identities through activities that help them harbor their self-presentation as a (former) husband.