Remarriage

Everyone deserves a second chance, and many people take it. Four out of 10 marriages in the United States are remarriages for at least one of the parties. Remarriages are more likely for men than for women, for young adults than for middle-aged and older adults, for whites than for blacks or Hispanics, and for less educated than for highly educated women (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1992). Remarriage is more likely shortly after divorcing and declines in probability as the time since the divorce increases.

People remarry for many of the same reasons they married the first time—romance, affection, companionship, security, regard, and so on. Sex is an important reason for remarriage at all ages but less so with older adults. As people grow older, closeness and intimacy become more important than sexual relations.

Despite the popular song that love is more comfortable the second time around, remarriages tend to be even less stable than first marriages. As it was with the first divorce, the likelihood of redivorce after a second marriage is higher for younger than for older couples. Apparently, older couples are more likely to think twice before remarrying, to select more wisely, and to have learned from experience that compromise and consideration are necessary in order to make marriage work. Remarriage among older adults after the death of a spouse also has a greater chance of success than remarriage after a divorce (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1992).

A successful remarriage requires not only the efforts of both partners but also those of the relatives and friends of the marital partners. The newlyweds usually need all the support, understanding, and acceptance they can get from those who are close to them. This is particularly true in the case of stepchildren. Adolescents, especially boys, and when the stepparent is a man, typically adjust better than younger children to a new stepparent (Hetherington, Cox, & Cox, 1982). In any case, it is natural for a child or an adolescent to be concerned about someone who demands much of the time, attention, and love of the natural mother or father. Conflicts between stepparents and stepchildren and their consequent inability to adjust to each other are a major reason for the failure of second marriages in which there are children from a previous marriage (White & Booth, 1985).

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