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Keywords:

  • aging;
  • cumulative life experiences;
  • mid-later events;
  • later-life marital relationships

Little research has examined continuity and change in marital functioning from the middle to later years. We draw on a life course perspective and examine the influences of cumulative life experiences, personal characteristics, genetic markers, and stressful life events during the mid-later transition on later-life marital functioning. Although this theoretical framework is applicable to other types of close relationships and stressful life events in various domains, as mediators of these influences, we examine retirement as one important stressful life events in the mid-later transition and marital functioning because of its centrality for most individuals. We review research supporting this theoretical framework and provide implications for future research on continuity and change in marital functioning over later adulthood.