Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Development and Family Science


D. Bruce Carter


African immigrants, Ghanaian immigrants, Marriage relationships, Migrants, Relationship quality, Transnational living

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This qualitative study examined the causes of relationship strains among Ghanaian transnational married couples and the behavioral adjustments and expectancies needed to accommodate relationship disruptions among Ghanaian immigrant couples. The Goal Attainment Theory (GAT)’s three systems: Individual/personal, Group/Interpersonal, and Social/society were instrumental to the theoretical framework of this study. The GAT provided a strong basis for understanding the causes of relationship strains among this population. I asked three questions: 1. What motivates transnational migration among Ghanaian immigrants in the United States? 2. How do transnational living arrangements affect the care and nurture of marriage among Ghanaian couples? and 3. How do immigration policies relate to Ghanaian immigrants’ relationship quality? To answer these questions, I interviewed twenty-four Ghanaian immigrants residing in New York, Maryland, and Massachusetts, United States (U.S.), and their Ghanaian spouses residing in Ghana. I draw on my participants’ narratives to show that transnational couples experience several relationship strains and stresses, including depression, chronic illness, financial hardships, and divorce that seem to be the result of inadequate, or lack of, education prior to migration, lack of relationship nurture, and barriers created by changing U.S. immigration policies and modifications. Some of the challenges experienced by this immigrant population raise serious health concerns. Findings from the study also revealed gender differences in the challenges transnational couples experience and how those challenges are handled. This study adds to academic debates about transnational living and relationship quality in Ghanaian society. While there is some transnational literature on other immigrant groups, this population has never been studied on this subject matter. Results of this study are of relevance to practitioners and policymakers.


Open Access

Available for download on Tuesday, November 15, 2033