Marital Relationships and Other Adult Issues

Annotated Bibliography

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Brandau-Brown, F. E., Bello, R. S., & Ragsdale, J. D. (2008). Attachment style and tolerance for ambiguity effects on relational repair message interpretation among remarrieds. Marriage & Family Review, 46(6-7), 389-399.

Using data from 191 remarried individuals (68% women) identified through network sampling in response to two hypothetical scenarios, findings were that secured and preoccupied attachment style were associated with repair messages as more polite and honest than fearful and dismissives. Also, more ambiguity tolerance was associated with stronger perceptions of message competence, whereas less ambiguity tolerance was associated with more positive interpretations of partner's politeness.

Brimhall, A., Wampler, K., & Kimball, T. (2008). Learning from the past, altering the future: A tentative theory of the effect of past relationships on couples who remarry. Family Process, 47, 373-387.

Interviews of eight couples in second marriages after divorce resulted in one category (trust in relationships) and three main categories about their relationships: Lack of trust in past relationships (ability to trust their current spouse was influenced by experiences in the past, especially betrayal), attempts to increase trust in the dating relationship (see the new spouse as the polar opposite of first, express an unwillingness to tolerate same behavior received in the first marriage, and reports of committing to their new relationship because it just clicked), and presence of trust in the current relationship (physical and emotional reaction to current spouse was influenced by experiences in the first marriage, but partner responded in a way that created acceptance, avoided repeating any behavior from the first relationship that was harmful to the second which creates greater openness).

Brimhall, A. S., & Engblom-Deglmann, M. L. (2011). Starting over: A tentative theory exploring the effects of past relationships on postbereavement remarried couples. Family Process, 50, 47-52.

Using qualitative data from 12 couples in a 2nd marriage where one had prior spouse die, findings showed that memories of prior spouse was central to the effects of this on the current marriage. Memories were fueled by stepchildren, specific dates, unexpected death, and living in home shared with prior spouse and affected how new spouses interacted. The categories reflecting this interaction included: past on pedestal, current/past comparisons, insecurity of current spouse, curiosity about past, and partner' response to curiosity.

Buss, D. M., & Duntley, J. D. (2011). The evolution of intimate partner violence. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 16, 411-419.

Review of the literature on intimate partner violence from an evolutional psychology perspective. Among other adaptive problems (e.g., resource scarcity, infidelity), results suggests that stepchildren are viewed as cost to mating and reduce or delay reproduction, and lack biological relatedness reduces resource distribution to biological children; thus, stepparents are less invested, and stepchildren more likely to be victims of abuse.

Canada, A. L., & Schover, L. R. (2012). The psychosocial impact of interrupted childbearing in long-term female cancer survivors. Psycho-Oncology, 21, 134-143.

Using data from 242 women interviewed 10 years after diagnosis to determine the effects of cancer-related infertility on quality of life. Findings were that those who wanted child and were unable to conceived reported the most distress, those with adopted or stepchildren were intermediate, and those with at least 1 biological children were least distressed.

Cutrona, C. E., Russell, D. W., Burzette, R. G., Wesner, K. A., & Bryant, C. M. (2011). Predicting relationship stability among midlife African American couples. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79, 814-825.

Data were from the Family and Community Health Study using responses from 371 married and 78 cohabiting rural African American couples with a 9-11 year old child. Findings were that stability was strongest among intact and cohabiting bio-parent couples compared with those in stepfamilies, although relationships quality was similar across groups with both bio groups reporting lower quality.

DeGreef, B. L., & Brunett, A. (2009). Weekend warriors: Autonomy-connection, openness-closedness, and coping strategies of marital partners in nonresidential stepfamilies. The Qualitative Report, 14, 604-628.

Qualitative interviews with 5 non-resident stepfamily couples about dialectical tensions in their marital relationship and their coping strategies for dealing with them was examined. Couples reported tensions of autonomy-connection and openness-closedness about experiences as a non-resident stepfamily. All couples felt tensions of autonomy-connection within the spousal relationships and between stepparent and stepchild, whereas some also felt torn in parent-child and ex-spouse relationships. Tensions in openness-closedness were reported in all couples in their relationships, between the stepparents, and also with stepchildren and stepparents.

Dupuis, S. B. (2009). An ecological examination of older remarried couples. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50, 369-387.

Examined older remarried couples, using Bronfenbrenner's four level ecological model. The individual is affected by age, cohort, gender, health status, and attachment to an ex-spouse which influence mate selection. Gender roles, level of personal autonomy, sexual intercourse, health and retirement are discussed in the contexts of microsystems. Mesosystems are largely affected by adult child and stepchild interactions and relationships with friends and extended family. Ex-spouses and work situations make up the exosystem, and social perceptions and legal considerations are discussed as the macrosystem. Clinical implications and directions for future research are included.

Dupuis, S. (2010). Examining the blended family: The application of systems theory toward an understanding of the blended family system. Journal of Couple & Relationships Therapy, 9, 239-251.

Used concepts from systems theory (rules of transformation, subsystems, boundaries, systems levels, equilibrium, and variety) to provide insight into issues facing stepfamilies.

Ehrenberg, M. F., Robertson, M., & Pringle, J. (2012). Attachment style and martial commitment in the context of remarriage. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 53, 178-193.

Using data from a convenience sample of 145 remarried parents, findings were that level of commitment differed by attachment style. Higher levels of commitment were reported by those also reporting a secure attachment style compared with those who were fearful or dismissive, but not preoccupied. No gender differences were found.

Gardner, J., & Oswald, A. J. (2006). Do divorcing couples become happier by breaking up? Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A, 169, 319-339.

Using data from over 10,000 adults from the British Household Panel Survey, results were that those who remarry after divorce or widowhood do not differ from those who remain single on measures of general well-being. Improvement in mental strain was also not different between those who remarry and those who remain single.

Halford, K., Nicholson, J., & Sanders, M. (2007). Couple communication in stepfamilies. Family Process, 46, 471-483.

Couple communication patterns were compared for 52 first-marriage and 65 stepfamily couples. Each set of couples was stratified into high and low-risk categories by family history of divorce and violence. Ten-minute observations of discussions were coded for positive discussion, validation/invalidation, conflict, negative non-verbal, and withdrawal. Stepfamily couples showed less positive and negative discussion and more withdrawal. First-married showed higher conflict, invalidation and negative non-verbal. High risk women in first marriages showed higher conflict and invalidation. Overall, stepfamilies couples showed much less negative and withdrew from interaction more which might reflect avoidance.

Hanzal, A., & Segrin, C. (2008). Conflict patterns and family of origin conflict in newly initiated remarriages. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 49, 41-57.

Conflict patterns in 66 couples (33 with at least one previously divorced) were analyzed, revealing that wives with higher levels of interparental conflict in the family of origin were now more likely to be in a marriage with a history of divorce-this increased the odds of being married to a husband who was previously divorced, but not their own odds of divorce. Although couples' history of divorce was unrelated to reports of conflict tactics, husbands' reports of their partners' conflict withdrawal and compliance were higher than their wives' corresponding reports.

Higginbotham, B. J., & Felix, D. (2009). Economic predictors of marital quality among newly remarried rural and urban couples. Family Science Review, 14, 18-30.

Economic predictors of marital quality were assessed in recently remarried men (939) and women (1,101) from rural (34%) and urban areas. Rural couples had larger households and higher felt constraint and financial concern, whereas urban households had higher incomes, per capita income, and education levels. No group differences in marital satisfaction and instability. More felt constraint was linked with less satisfaction in rural and urban husbands, whereas perceived material needs was linked with more marital instability for rural husbands. More perceived material needs and financial concerns were linked with less satisfaction in rural wives, whereas financial concerns were linked with more instability. More felt constraint was linked with more instability in urban husbands. Household size, material needs, and financial concerns all were linked with poorer urban wives' satisfaction, whereas felt constraint and financial concerns were linked with more instability.

Humble, A. M. (2009). The second time 'round: Gender construction in remarried couples' wedding planning. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50, 260-281.

Fourteen couples talked about their wedding plans for their second marriages. Although traditional weddings (church weddings) were common, many occurred in hotels, restaurants, and homes. Most wanted a unique wedding that reflected who they were, as they focused on simple and economic solutions. Traditional couples in both first and second marriages had brides who planned the wedding, with little input from the grooms. Transitional couples in both marriages had grooms who were happy to help out when asked, were involved in final decision, and were more involved through doing things with the bride. Conflict intermittently emerged in them, mostly between the bride and other people who had different ideas of the formality and informality. Egalitarian couples in both marriages were equally involved in planning, with grooms who took on responsibility for tasks without having to be asked, came up with unique contributions, and were actively involved at all stages. They had more variation between first and second weddings.

Jose, O. A., & Alfons, V. (2007). Religiosity and forgiveness among first-married and remarried adults. Mental Health, Religion, & Culture, 10, 379-394.

Comparisons between 424 first-married and 363 remarried Belgium couples were made to assess the amount of religiosity and forgiveness present. Positive correlation between religiosity and forgiveness; differences were that first-marrieds, women, older, more children and longer marriages were more religious. Demographics did not explain religiosity in remarrieds. Differences between first and remarriages on the link between religiosity and forgiveness was not addressed.

Lucier-Greer, M., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2011). An examination of gender role attitude change patterns among continuously married, divorced, and remarried individuals. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 52, 225-243.

Data were from 590 married individuals from the Marital Instability Over the Lifecourse Study using reports from 1980, 1988, and 2000. Findings showed that continuously married (n = 480), divorced/not remarried (n = 54), and remarrieds (n = 48) by 2000 all showed increase in egalitarian attitudes, with more dramatic change in divorce and remarried groups. However, the pattern was unique for remarrieds with increase from 1980-1988 and a decrease from 1988-2000, although the level in 2000 was below that of 1980; no difference in 2000 scores between continuously married and remarrieds-only divorced/not remarried continued to be more egalitarian than the other two groups.

Meyer, M. J., Larson, J. H., Busby, D., Harper, J. (2012). Working hard or hardly working? Comparing relationship self-regulation levels of cohabiting, married, and remarried individuals. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 53, 142-155.

Data were from 6,565 participants in the Relationships Evaluation (RELATE) study and assessed whether strategies and effort to monitor and maintain the relationship (relationship self-regulation [RSR]) varied by relationship status group. Findings were that remarrieds reported the lowest RSR and highest negative communication, whereas first marrieds reported the highest RSR and positive communication and lowest negative communication of all groups (first-marrieds, cohabitation without prior divorce, remarried, cohabitation with prior divorce). Cohabitors did not differ on RSR, and remarrieds and cohabitors with prior divorce did not differ on negative communication.

Monte, L. M. (2011). Multiple partner maternity versus multiple partner paternity: What matters for family trajectories. Marriage & Family Review, 47(2), 90-124.

Data from 2,134 romantically involvement mothers and fathers from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study were used to examine the relationship outcomes (dissolution vs. marriage) and trajectories. The focus is on married and unmarried stepfamilies at the time birth of a common child. Findings were that mother's child from prior union does not affect outcomes 5 years later; however, men's prior children are linked with an increase in dissolution and decrease in marriage during same time. His payment of child support, rather than her receipt, is linked with increased dissolution but did not affect likelihood of marriage to mother of their common child.

Moore, M. R. (2008). Gendered power relations among women: A study of household decision making in Black, lesbian stepfamilies. American Sociological Review, 73, 335-356.

Black lesbian women without children at home (n = 34) were interviewed about household decision-making process. Most were employed and frequently shared household bills and financial responsibilities, only pooling some funds and maintained financial independence. Although most supported egalitarian division of labor, behavior was not consistent: bio-mothers performed more household organizing tasks, chores, managing the funds, childcare activities, budgeting, time-consuming, and feminine tasks. This gave them a stronger say in other aspects of family life (e.g., money management and childrearing). Partners often wanted more say over childrearing and expected to have some parenting authority, because the absence of legal ties made their position in the family less certain and permanent. Partners with greater financial status had greater say over finances, but not necessarily greater influence over children.

Moorman, S. M., Booth, A., & Fingerman, K. L. (2006). Women's romantic relationships after widowhood. Journal of Family Issues, 27, 1281-1304.

Data from a subsample of the Americans' Changing Lives Survey (259 widowed and 49 widowed and subsequently remarried women) were used to study women's experiences following widowhood. Results showed that younger and greater unhappiness predicted greater interest in remarriage. Higher depression, greater worry about financial security and assets, and being older reduced likelihood of remarriage. Higher incomes increased the odds of remarriage for widowed women.

Morton, M. C., Smith, K. R., Ostbye, T., Tschanz, J. T., Schwartz, S., et al. (2011). Early parental death and remarriage of widowed parents as risk factors for Alzheimer disease: The Cache County Study. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 19, 814-824.

Using data from 4,108 individuals, ages 65-105 in rural county in Utah in which 570 had an Alzheimer's diagnosis, findings were that parental death was associated with higher rates of AD. However, father's death before age 5 was the only developmental period of influence. Importantly, these associations were only signification when widowed parents did not remarry.

O'Connor, T. G., Cheng, H., Dunn, J., Golding, J., & the ALSPAC Study Team. (2005). Factors moderating change in depressive symptoms in women following separation: Findings from a community study in England. Psychological Medicine, 35, 715-724.

Using data from 8,264 women from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), the relationship between separation, depressive symptomology, and various moderating factors was examined. Controlling for stability in depressive symptoms, women in remarriage separations evidenced higher levels of depressive symptoms compared to their first-marriage separated counterparts.

Saint-Jacques, M., Robitaille, C., Godbout, E., Parent, C., Drapea, S., & Gagne, M. (2011). The process of distinguishing stable from unstable stepfamily couples: A qualitative analysis. Family Relations, 60, 545-561.

Interviews from 57 Canadian (Quebec) adults who were (31; separate within 5 years) or are (26) in stepfamilies (most cohabiting, not married and in complex stepfamilies) showed problem approaches and strategies important to stability. Difficulties (nature, number and intensity) were similar, but unstable were more numerous and intense. Stable couples responded intensely to problems and used another strategy until one worked (e.g., discussions to compromise, meetings, professional consultations), emphasizing problem-focused strategies consistently. Those that dissolved used avoidance-oriented strategies, especially when problem-focused did not work. Other differences were stable could count on partner, had good communication and the ability to readjust, moved slowly to cohabitation, had similar life stages, and had similar beliefs about the nature of issues.

Schramm, D. G., & Higginbotham, B. J. (2009). A revision of the questionnaire for couples in stepfamilies. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50, 341-355.

Two studies to assess the factor structure and reliability of using the Questionnaire for Couples in Stepfamilies (QCS) resulted in a revised 22-item scale with 4 domains of difficulties in stepfamilies. The RQCS remained a strong predictor of scores of marital stability.

Schramm, D. G., Marshall, J. P., Harris, V. W., & Lee, T. R. (2012). Religiosity, homogamy, and marital adjustment: An examination of newlyweds in first marriages and remarriages. Journal of Family Issues, 33, 246-268.

Using data from a state-wide survey of 1,294 first married and 601 remarried newlyweds (married 2-9 months), findings were that among spouses in first marriage, religiosity, being of the same denomination and when both say they are religious is linked with higher marital adjustment . Among remarrieds, religiosity and being of the same denominations was not linked with marital adjust. For both groups, both spouses reported being religious was linked with higher marital adjustment.

Watson, W. K., Bell, N. J., & Stelle, C. (2011). Women narrate later life remarriage: Negotiating the cultural to create the personal. Journal of Aging Studies, 24, 302-312.

Narratives from 8 recently remarried women (65-80 yrs.) were examined for an insider's view. Findings were that in pre-relationship dating, they were "not that desperate." Regarding the decision to remarry, this was predicated on the realization that "He's the one; why wait." Their relationship was characterized by romance, sexuality, and the importance of companionship, and their challenge was how to negotiate their independence.

Wilder, S. E. (2012). A comparative examination of reasons for and uses of uncertainty and topic avoidance in first and remarriage relationships. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 53, 292-310.

Using data from a convenience sample of 99 first-married and 76 remarried men and women, the effects of length of marriage, relationship satisfaction, and uncertainty on topic avoidance was examined. Findings were that the variables, especially uncertainty, better explained topic avoidance (regardless of topic: relationship issues, negative life events, friends, sex experiences and dating experiences) in remarriages than first marriages; however, the level of topic avoidance was similar between groups, but those in remarriages reported more uncertainty.

Xu, X., Hudspeth, C. D., & Bartokowski, J. P. (2006). The role of cohabitation in remarriage. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 261-274.

Using 3 subsamples (1,583 formerly divorced and remarried for timing; 971 and 926 who were still in their remarriages for happiness and instability) from the National Survey of Families and Households (Wave 1), the study examined the effects of cohabitation on the timing and quality of remarriage. Separating those cohabitated or not prior to marriages, and after divorce. From sample 1, 52% cohabited (38% cohabited before remarriage; 12% sequentially); 29% of the divorced cohabited with the partner that they remarried; 10% with others, too. Cohabitors wait longer to remarry; multipartnering further delays remarriage. Marital quality lower and instability higher with any cohabitation experience prior to remarriage.

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