Remarriage and Stepfamilies: General Findings

Annotated Bibliography

Click here to return to main headings

Adler-Baeder, F., Pittman, J. F., & Taylor, L. (2005). The prevalence of marital transitions in military families. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 44, 91-106.

Using data from 1992 and 1999 (members) and 1999 (member spouses) Department of Defense surveys, findings were that about 19% were remarried and remarriage was least common in Marines, among enlisted, older service personnel, single service couples and higher education. Overall divorce and remarriage among military occurs at earlier ages than the U.S. population.

Amato, P. R., Meyers, C. E., & Emery, R. E. (2009). Changes in nonresident father-child contact from 1976 to 2002. Family Relations, 58, 41-53.

Data from the 1976 wave of the National Survey of Children (NSC), 1987-1988 wave of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), the 1996 wave of the Children of the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY), and the 2002 wave of the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF) assessed the change in nonresident father-child contact. Fathers showing the least contact (37%) was in 1976 and lowest in 1996 (24%). Over time, fathers showing at least weekly contact increased (18% to 31%). Mothers' reports of father contact also increased and leveled off later. Both child age and maternal repartnering were negatively linked with contact, whereas mother's age was positively linked with contact. Mother's race and education were not associated with contact, except Hispanic mothers reported less contact than Whites. Increased father contact was 415% and 99% greater if fathers paid child support and the child was born within a marriage.

Anderson, E. R., & Greene, S. M. (2005). Transitions in parental repartnering after divorce. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 43(3/4), 57-62.

Nine relationship transitions were proposed from a review of the literature and describe as part of the process of reparterning after a previous relationship dissolution. These included dating initiation, child introduction, serious involvement, sleeping over, cohabitation, break up of a serious relationship, pregnancy in the new relationship, engagement, and remarriage.

Anderson, K. G. (2011). Does paying child support reduce men's subsequent marriage and fertility? Evolution and Human Behavior, 32, 90-96.

Data were from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (1985-1993) following about 1,400 men who had additional children and/or married. Findings were that paying child support decreases the odds of future births but increases the odds of marriage (remarriage).

Brown, S. L., Lee, G. R., & Bulanda, J. R. (2006). Cohabitation among older adults: A national portrait. Journal of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 61B, S71-S79.

Data from the 1998 Health and Retirement study of 19,727 individuals ages 51+ were used to examine trends in relational status in older adults. Of them, 2.2% were cohabiting, 48.7% were in first marriages,19.8% were widowed,16.5% were in remarriages, 9.9% were separated or divorced, and 2.9% never married. For women, education and retirement was negatively associated with remarriage, whereas part-time employment and not working were positively associated with remarriage. Among men, religiosity and the presence of children were positively associated with remarriage and cohabitation. For women, the presence of children was positively associated with remarriage. For both men and women, those who are remarried were more likely to be both White and older.

Brown, S. L., & Manning, W. D. (2009). Family boundary ambiguity and the measurement of family structure: The significance of cohabitation. Demography, 46, 85-101.

Adolescents with a bio-l or adoptive mother from Add Health (n = 14,047) used to assess family boundary ambiguity between different family structures. Adolescent-mother pairs exhibited boundary ambiguity (11%) by not agreeing on their family type. Highest level of ambiguity occurred in cohabiting stepfamilies: only 33% of mothers reporting this structure had adolescents who agreed (45% reported living with a single mother instead). More mothers in married stepfamilies (70%) had adolescents who agreed (1/5 reported living with two bio- parents instead). Consensus was in 2% living in cohabiting stepfamilies. Black adolescent-mother pairs were more likely to disagree, pairs where the mother was previously married were less likely to disagree, and maternal education and family income were linked with ambiguity. Those not with two bio- parents had lower levels of family connectedness and closeness, whereas married stepfamilies did not differ from two bio-parent families on closeness. No association between family type and autonomy was found.

Coleman, M., & Nickleberry, L. (2009). An evaluation of the remarriage and stepfamily self-help literature. Family Relations, 58, 549-561.

Examined and critiqued 63 stepfamily self-help books published since 1990.Thirteen strongly recommended books were well-organized, appropriate for the intended audience, and offered both positive and negative perspectives of stepfamily life and concrete, practical advice. Half of strongly recommended books were written by someone with clinical experience or an appropriate degree; 64% of authors had personal experience in stepfamilies. Books that were not recommended (n = 21) offered vague advice or advice which contradicted current research. The remaining recommended (n = 12) and recommended with reservation (n = 17) books fell between the extremes in readability, comprehension, and use of concrete advice based on research or clinical experience.

Cunningham, M., & Thornton, A. (2005). The influence of union transitions on White adults' attitudes toward cohabitation. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 710-720.

Used data from 794 young adults from the Intergenerational Panel Study of Parents and Children to examine changes in attitudes toward cohabitation as a result of entry and exit from cohabitation and marriage. Entry into first cohabitation and divorce following first marriage (not following cohabitation) was associated with increasingly positive attitudes toward cohabitation at age 31. Direct entry into marriage minus cohabitation reduced the positive attitude toward cohabitation.

Dewilde, C., & Uunk, W. (2008). Remarriage as a way to overcome the financial consequences of divorce-A test of the economic need hypothesis for European women. European Sociological Review, 24, 393-407.

Women who divorced between 1994 and 2001 from the ECHP (ages 18-64 at divorce; n = 2,349) were asked about their financial situations post-divorce. Remarriage odds are lower the more time since divorce and being older. Being in school or career training delayed remarriage; presence of children, marriage before divorce, education, an immediate income decline after divorce, later post-divorce poverty, nor being employed afterwards affected repartnering. An income decline was linked with a 42% increase in the likelihood of remarriage for previously poor women, but an 8% decrease for previously rich women. Women with a substantial income decline had a lower income later post-divorce than women who lacked a decline. Previously rich women have a more beneficial income gain after repartnering than did previous poor women. Those in countries with higher single-parent allowances, like Denmark, remarry at faster.

Eng, P. M., Kawachi, I., Fitzmaurice, G., & Rimm, E. B. (2005). Effects of marital transitions on changes in dietary and other health behaviors in US male health professionals. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 59, 56-62.

Data from 38,865 male health professionals ages 40-75 in 1986 investigated the effects of marital transitions on various health-related behaviors. Controlling for age, remarried men evidenced an increased Body Mass Index, decreased levels of physical activity, and larger increases in vegetable, chicken, and turkey intake compared with ever-married men. Remarried men had less consumption of high sugar content beverages and increased consumption of refined grains compared to their non-remarried counterparts.

Ganong, L., Coleman, M., & Hans, J. (2006). Divorce as prelude to stepfamily living and the consequences of redivorce. In M. A. Fine & J. H. Harvey (Eds.), Handbook of divorce and relationship dissolution (pp. 409-434). Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Reviews the empirical literature related to the influence of divorce on repartnering, remarriage, stepfamily development and maintenance, and the causes and consequences of divorce in stepfamilies (focusing on intrapersonal, cultural, and interpersonal factors) and its implications for practitioners, scholars, and policy-makers. Discusses suggestions for further exploration consistent with emerging methods, theories, and unanswered questions regarding stepfamily dissolution.

Goldscheider, F., Kaufman, G., & Sassler, S. (2009). Navigating the "new" marriage market: How attitudes toward partner characteristics shape union formation. Journal of Family Issues, 30, 719-737.

Data from 1,520 non-committed adults under 35 years old from Waves 1 and 2 of the National Survey of Families and Households were used to examine attitudes about potential mates. Men more open to a spouse with children are more likely to enter such a union, regardless of previous marital status. Men who displayed more willingness to marry a divorced woman are more to do so, only if she is childless. Men willing to marry above their financial status were less likely to have a partner, whereas those willing to marry one from a lower status were more likely to be partnered, but only if she was childless and never-married. Women more willing to marry a partner with children are more likely to do so, but only if he was never married; they are less likely to marry a man with no marital or parental experience. Greater willingness to marry a divorced man has no effect on her likelihood of partnering, but increases the chance of marrying such a man, both with or without children. A preference for a man who is more successful had a positive, yet weak, effect on her partnerships. Women who favor a less successful partner than self were more likely to be partnered, but only if childless and never-married.

Gray, M., de Vaus, D., Qu, L., & Stanton, D. (2011). Divorce and the wellbeing of older Australians. Ageing & Society, 31, 475-498.

Using data from the Household Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia Survey, examined the effects of divorce and remarriage on social connection/participation, social support, life satisfaction and mental and physical health in a sample of 2,510 men and 2,682 women ages 55-74. Findings were that earlier divorce affected wellbeing later in adulthood, and that the negative effects were only for those who remained single.

Higginbotham, B. J., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2008). Assessing beliefs about remarriages and stepfamilies: The Remarriage Belief Inventory. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 48, 33 -54.

Data from convenience sample of 344 remarried individuals were used to assess the factorial design of 22-item instrument. The 7-factor solution (adjustment, finances, partner, priority, success, stepfamily, past) was cross validated with 217 remarrieds from Utah (less education, lower income, marriages of short duration, more marriages, and more satisfied with marriage). Factors explained expected variance in martial satisfaction and adjustment confirming validity, but differences not found by stepfamily type or years married.

Koren, C., & Eisikovits, Z. (2011). Life beyond the planned script: Accounts and secrecy of older persons living in second couplehood in old age in a society in transition. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 28, 44-63.

Qualitative study of 20 Israeli elderly couples (60 years +) who were either cohabiting or remarried after death or divorce from first spouse to determine how they "navigate the space between" this nonnormative situation and normative expectations. Findings were that they did not see this as normative and needed to explained it or keep it a secret. In their justifications they report it as being unintended, positive, and supported through offspring approval. Others talked about keeping the relationship secret initially.

Matthijs, K. (2006). Changing patterns of familial sociability: Family members as witnesses to (re)marriage in nineteenth-century Flanders. Journal of Family History, 31, 115-143.

Archival data from nearly 27,000 marriage certificates (1800-1913) in 5 municipalities comprising the northern half of Belgium were used to examine witnesses to remarriage ceremonies. Analysis revealed that although witnessing family members are greater for first as opposed to subsequent marriages, the overall number of witnessing brothers and family members increased in both marriages and remarriages throughout the second half of the 19th century.

McNamee, C. B., & Raley, R. K. (2011). A note on race, ethnicity and nativity differentials in remarriage in the United States. Demographic Research, 24, 293-312.

Using data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth and the 2004 Survey of Income and Program Participation, estimated differences in remarriage and repartnering for women. Findings were that by 3.8 years after separation, 25% of White women remarried. U.S. born and foreign born Latina s were slower to do so, (5.1 and 5.2 years), and only 19% of Blacks had done so after 6 years. Less than high school slowest to remarry, although those with high school degree and advanced degrees were similar pace (3.7 and 3.6); women with college degree were 4.3 years. Those who separate at early age, most quickly cohabit (25% within 1.5 years at ages 25-29). White women have highest odds of remarriage or repartnership, and education increases the odds of remarriage for all groups.

Pollet, T. V., van de Meij, L., Cohey, K. D., & Buunk, A. P. (2011). Testosterone levels and their associations with lifetime number of opposite sex partners and remarriage in a large sample of American elderly men and women. Hormones and Behavior, 60, 72-77.

Data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (N = 3005, ages 57-85) showed that after controlling for education, age, BMI, ethnicity, medication use, and time sampling, testosterone (T) was associated with more opposite sex sexual partners in men. For women, the relationship was not as robust and driven by those women who had 20+ partners. Marital and relationship status did not affect the link between T and number of partners, but remarriage among males only did strengthen the link.

Perez, J. C., & Torrens, A. J. (2009). The myth of motherhood and the role of stepmothers: An outlook of women who have delayed their motherhood. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50, 206-219.

Chilean stepmothers (n = 17, 59% had only one stepchild), ages 29 and 39 years, described their ideas of motherhood and the experience of delaying their own motherhood. Being a mother was a significant element of their identity, although it took a secondary position for some after work/career. All believed that motherhood must be developed within the couple's specific context, mentioning maturity, clarity in personal goals, and "good fathers" as reinforcing their motherhood motivations. Conflicts, age, and concerns around stepchildren becoming negative role models for their own children (different values and manners) are limit these motivations. They designated their stepchildren as their partners' children, but not theirs (a child is unable to have two mothers)-own motherhood is perceived as different from the role, bond, and relationship with stepchildren. Bio-parents are responsible for what happens to the children, not stepmothers.

Poortman, A, & Lyngstad, T. H. (2007). Dissolution risks in first and higher order marital and cohabiting unions. Social Science Research, 36, 1431-1446.

Data from 5,294 first marriages and 1,645 higher-order marital and cohabitating unions (1,332 second; 313 third) in the New Families Survey (Danish) examined the risks of divorce and dissolution. Higher-order unions dissolved at higher rates, but only when selectivity factors were not controlled (e.g., union duration, age of entry, education, traditional values). Those entering a second marriage have a lower risk than those entering a second cohabiting union; cohabitation is less stable than marriages. Former cohabitants do not do worse in their second union and have less risk when entering a second marriage than those entering a first marriage. Formerly married generally have higher risk, especially when they enter cohabitation for the second time.

Rigg, A., & Pryor, J. (2007). Children's perceptions of families: What do they really think? Children & Society, 21, 17-30.

Interviews with 111 school children (10% in stepfamilies) ascertained which family vignette scenarios were classified as a family based on the structure. Overall, scenarios were endorsed mostly unanimously (married couple with child, non-resident father, and blended family of 10 years), split (couple without children and cohabiting same-sex couple with children), or very rarely endorsed (a child, his lone mother, and her non-resident partner). Children with two parents were more likely to endorse the vignettes as families. Children in stepfamilies were more likely to endorse cohabiting with children and children without parents than those children from extended families, but less likely than those from two-parents. Children from stepfamilies were the least likely to endorse married without children and extended family and the most likely to endorse cohabiting without children.

Schmeeckle, M., Giarrusso, R., Feng, D., Bengtson, V. L. (2006). What makes someone family? Adult children's perceptions of current and former stepparents. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 595-610.

Data from the 1997 wave of the Longitudinal Study of Generations of 443 adult children (57% women, 43% men) examined the extent to which current and former stepparents were perceived as both parents and family members. Current stepparents who were married and coresided with the adult child were perceived more frequently as a family member and parent. When adult children acquired a stepparent earlier, the likelihood of stepparents being perceived as parents increased. Adult children who reported higher feelings of family obligation and were less exclusionary toward steprelatives more fully perceived current and former stepparents as family.

Stanley, ,S. M., Rhodes, G. K., Amato, P. R., Markman, H. J., & Johnson, C. A. (2010). The timing of cohabitation and engagement: Impact on first and second marriages. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 906-918.

Using data from a multi-state, random phone survey in 2011, examined the responses from 637 who were married in 1990 or later on cohabitation history, martial positivity, negative interaction, divorce proneness, and traditional beliefs. Findings were that cohabiting without being engaged or married was linked with more negative interaction, and high divorce proneness and probability to divorce. For second marriages, cohabitation with or without being engaged was linked with lower martial quality. No gender effects.

Wang, Q., & Zhou, Q. (2010). China's divorce and remarriage rates: Trends and regional disparities. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 51, 257-267.

Dramatic increases in divorce and remarriage since 1980 were associated with patterns in economic transition: regional factors (remarriage higher in northern provinces), per-capita (GDP) income, and education level (% with college education linked with higher rates of divorce and remarriage).

Widmer, E. D. (2006). Who are my family members? Bridging and binding social capital in family configurations. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23, 979-998.

Data from 229 undergraduates (77% female; ages 18 - 32) in Switzerland were used to examine an individual's identification of family members. In terms of family members, roughly 10% cited stepfathers or stepmothers (e.g., mother/father's partner), but did not use step language. Seven 7 types of family constellations included a postdivorce configuration of either/or parent's partners (stepfathers and stepmothers). Respondents in the postdivorce configuration reported fewer family members and directly supportive connections, as well as fewer family members who drew support from them.

Wu, Z., & Schimmele, C. M. (2005). Repartnering after first union disruption. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 27-36.

Data from 2,639 persons from the 1995 General Social Survey used to examine repartnering choices of remarriage or cohabitation. Second unions were formed by 42% women and 54% men within 5 years with cohabitation being most common. Repartnering occurred more quickly among prior cohabitors than those divorced, and widows were least likely to do so. Men were most likely to repartner; also longer duration of first union and increased aged decreased the likelihood of repartnering; stepchildren, adopted and preschool children had increased likelihood of cohabitation in men; pregnancy increased marriage for women; employment decreased women's repartnering and men's cohabitation; higher education increased women's repartnering and men's cohabitation.

Share |