Divorce, Separation, and Remarriage: The Transformation of Family: Volume 10

Cover of Divorce, Separation, and Remarriage: The Transformation of Family

Table of contents

(17 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xix
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Section I: Marriage, Remarriage and Stepfamilies

Purpose

This study assessed the marital quality of older men and women in first marriages and remarriages, examining gender differences within first marriages and remarriages, and marriage order differences for men and women separately.

Methodology

The study employed nationally representative survey data for 1,243 married adults, aged 62–91, from Wave II of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), conducted in 2010–2011. Marital quality was assessed with six positive relationship dimensions and two negative ones.

Findings

Descriptive data revealed mean ratings above scale midpoints on all positive dimensions of marital quality, and mean ratings generally below the midpoints on the negative dimensions for men and women in both first marriages and remarriages. Multivariate analyses indicated an overall stronger influence of gender than marriage order on marital quality for this sample of older adults. In both first marriages and remarriages, men reported more favorable perceptions of marriage across several positive dimensions (e.g., emotional satisfaction, physical pleasure), though they also reported more spousal criticism than did women. Within gender groups, marriage order was not associated with any of the dimensions of marital quality that were assessed.

Value

This study demonstrates that marriage order does not have a significant influence on the marital quality of older adults today, but that long-standing gender differences in marital quality hold across marriage order. These findings are critical given the increasingly diverse marital histories of individuals entering old age in the early 21st century, and the importance of a positive, supportive marriage for older adults’ well-being.

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Purpose

A small-scale study was conducted to qualitatively explore the “lived experiences” of persons who remarried between the ages of 55 and 75. Improved life expectancy, high divorce rates, increased odds of being widowed over time, and the need for intimate relationships across the lifespan are some of the factors associated with a recent increase in remarriage rates of older adults. While demographic trends indicate that repartnering in the later years will likely become more common, little is known about remarriage in the “young-old” years.

Methodology/approach

The study included in-depth, semistructured interviews with 11 newlyweds (seven females, four males) who had remarried between the ages of 55 and 75. Word-for-word transcripts were qualitatively analyzed through a process of open coding and constant comparison to identify salient themes related to the original research question “What is the transition to remarriage experience like for adults aged 55–75?”

Findings

Five themes emerged from the analysis of participant interviews: positive orientation toward remarriage, practical/pragmatic view of the union, desire for companionship, recognition of others’ feelings, and willingness to adapt.

Research limitations/implications

The findings were salient to a small group of “young-old,” white, middle-class males and females from the Midwest and are not meant to be generalizable. The results can serve as a basis for further research and understanding of romantic relationships and repartnering across the life course.

Originality/value

This study helps to fill the gap that exists in the current literature related to romantic relationships and remarriage in the “young-old” years of life.

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Purpose

The goal of this chapter is to examine (1) how children’s rapport with dating partners predicts mothers’ dating stability; (2) how characteristics of dating partners are associated with children’s problem behaviors; and (3) how mothers’ lingering attachment to the former spouse predicts relationship quality of dating relationships.

Methodology/approach

Data comes from a multimethod, multi-informant longitudinal study of postdivorce dating relationships (N = 319 mothers, n = 178 children, n = 153 dating partners). Hierarchical linear modeling techniques were used to test consequences of breakup of mothers’ dating relationships for children’s behaviors, children’s rapport with dating partners for mothers’ dating relationship stability, and mothers’ lingering attachment for quality of dating relationships.

Findings

We found that children’s rapport with dating partners was positively associated with dating breakup; more antisocial traits and drunkenness of mothers’ dating partners was positively associated with children’s problem behaviors at breakup; and lingering attachment was positively associated with poorer relationship quality with dating partners.

Research limitations/implications

Because the focus of this chapter is divorced mothers with children, future studies are recommended to examine fathers’ postdivorce dating relationships. Future research should delineate dating, cohabiting, and remarried relationships after divorce.

Originality/value

This chapter presents empirical data examining the influence children have on mothers’ dating relationships, the influence of mothers’ dating relationships on children’s behaviors, and the effects of mothers’ lingering attachment to the former spouse on quality of mothers’ dating relationships. Information from this research is crucial for researchers and practitioners to assist mother’s and children’s postdivorce adjustment.

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Purpose

Stepgrandparent-stepgrandchild relationships are increasingly common as a result of relatively high rates of divorce and remarriage and increased longevity. When relationships are close, stepgrandparents may be valuable resources for stepgrandchildren, but the relational processes salient to the development of these ties remain largely unknown. The purposes of our research were: (1) to explore the complexity of stepgrandparent-stepgrandchild relationships, and (2) to examine processes that affected stepgrandparent-stepgrandchild relationship development.

Methodology/Approach

We present results from four grounded theory projects, which were based on semistructured interviews with 58 stepgrandchildren who provided data about 165 relationships with stepgrandparents. Collectively, these studies highlighted key processes of stepgrandparent-stepgrandchild relationship development operating within four distinct pathways to stepgrandparenthood – long-term, later life, skip-generation, and inherited pathways.

Findings

Stepgrandchildren’s closeness to stepgrandparents was influenced by factors such as timing (the child’s age and when in their life courses intergenerational relationships began), stepgrandparents’ roles in the life of the middle-generation parent and the quality of those relationships, whether or not the stepfamily defined the stepgrandparent as kin (e.g., through the use of claiming language), intergenerational contact frequency, and stepgrandparents’ affinity-building.

Originality/Value

Our study furthers understanding of stepgrandparent-stepgrandchild by attending to the importance of context in examining the processes that affect intergenerational steprelationship development. Exploring processes related to intergenerational steprelationships strengthens our understanding of the benefits and challenges associated with steprelationship development. Our study also sheds light on the “new look at kinship” and the processes that inform the social construction of family in a changing familial landscape.

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Purpose

Despite the over-representation of stepfamilies in the clientele receiving protective services, there is still very little information about the different forms of the parental commitment of stepfathers in those families. However, the characteristics of families receiving child protective services (CPS) are likely to influence the way that the stepfathers’ commitment is expressed.

Methodology/approach

Taking into account the viewpoint of mothers (n = 10), stepfathers (n = 10), and adolescents (n = 10), this study attempted to document, using the free association method and semistructured interviews, the following: (1) the representations that the members of these stepfamilies had of the stepfathers’ parental commitment; and (2) the way in which engagement was expressed in daily life.

Findings

While the participants agreed that the stepfather had a parental role to play, that is to take care of the children, they did not necessarily agree about which dimensions were the most important. Whereas the adults emphasized the child-rearing dimension of this role and the necessary cooperation with the biological parents, the adolescents insisted on the relational aspect. The results likewise indicated that these men were very committed to their partners’ adolescents and showed that even in families challenged by problems that lead to involvement with CPS, stepfathers can play a positive, supportive role.

Originality/value

This study represents an important addition to the existing literature on the role of stepfathers in that it uses multiple measures and direct reports from father figures allowing us to explore the main dimensions of stepfather commitment.

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Section II: Long-Term Consequences of Divorce on Offspring

Purpose

High rates of union dissolution and repartnering among parents means that today’s youth are increasingly likely to spend some time living with a stepparent. Although family structure has been linked to adolescent well-being, most work has compared those in stepfamilies with those in intact families, so it is not clear which aspects of stepfamily life are more or less consequential for adolescent behaviors among those exposed to a co-residential stepfamily.

Methodology/approach

To examine stepfamilies more closely, we focus explicitly on youth who had ever lived with a stepfather using mother and child data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (n = 1,754). We specifically explore how structure and stability, timing of exposure, and sibling configuration influence risk-taking, operationalized as sexual debut and drug use at age 16.

Findings

We find that timing and sibling composition seem to be unrelated to risk-taking, but stepfamily structure and stability are highly salient. Adolescents currently in a cohabiting stepfamily and those who have experienced the dissolution of a prior stepfamily are more likely to engage in sex (and sometimes use drugs) than their counterparts living with only their stepfather in a married-parent family.

Originality/value

The findings highlight the importance of stability, more so than structure, timing, or sibling configuration, in understanding adolescent risk-taking. The results provide further evidence that children in stepfamilies have unique vulnerabilities and opportunities for resilience, and should be evaluated independently from samples of children from intact families to avoid a deficit approach in modeling and theorizing.

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Purpose

A small number of studies have suggested that parental divorce may manifest during adulthood as low-level emotional distress characterized by painful feelings such as sadness or self-blame. In light of the paucity of existing research on distress, the current study was designed to assess the presence of distress among a sample of young adults with divorced parents and to ascertain whether painful feelings accurately describe the primary ongoing consequences of parental divorce.

Methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews with a sample of university students were conducted to investigate the concept of distress after parental divorce. Interview guides were designed to elicit responses about ways that parental divorce continues to influence the lives of young adults.

Findings

The study identified a set of ongoing stressors that do not overlap substantially with previous measures of post-divorce distress and that are often rooted in logistical difficulties. Three specific sources of distress are discussed: family coordination difficulties, struggles balancing the politics of parental expectations about time with their children, and perceptions of family fragmentation. These sources of distress frequently originate in the physical separation of parents’ households. Interviewees reported spending extra time and energy arranging family visits. Their choices about visiting parents frequently led to both feelings of guilt about the allocation of family time and a reduced sense of family cohesion. Ongoing logistical difficulties were much more commonly cited by young adults than painful feelings.

Originality/value

This qualitative investigation of distress suggests a significant re-orientation toward our understanding of the consequences of parental divorce is needed.

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Purpose

To investigate how parental divorce and gender might influence the likelihood of engaging in a friends with benefits relationship (FWBR), and the likelihood of binge drinking and unprotected sex practices.

Methodology/approach

Using self-report measures, 99 undergraduates shared their parental marital history, experiences with FWBRs, and health risk behaviors.

Findings

Men, as compared with women, reported significantly more FWBRs as did participants with divorced/separated parents, as compared with those with married parents. Participants who had engaged in an FWBR reported significantly more binge drinking than those with no prior FWBR experience; however, no differences were found for gender or parental marital status. No significant differences emerged regarding the prevalence of unprotected sex.

Research limitations/implications

The current study employed the use of self-report surveys, which can be subject to social desirability. All participants were recruited from a single liberal arts college with a limited sample of men with divorced or separated parents.

Originality/value

Using mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) to explore young adults’ predictors and outcomes of engaging in FWBRs provided unique insights into how gender and parental relationships influence both casual sex and health-related behaviors.

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Purpose

This study examined how parental divorce during emerging adulthood gives meaning to emerging adults’ developmental stage and interpersonal relationships.

Methodology/approach

The participant sample consisted of 15 females from the Southeastern United States who were between the ages of 18 and 25 (M = 21.5). Qualitative methods were utilized, with a transcendental phenomenological research methodology specifically applied. Interviews were conducted focusing on perceptions of the divorce experience in relation to important aspects of emerging adulthood, namely developmental experiences and interpersonal relationships, primarily intimate partner and dating experiences. NVivo was used to allow a “bottom-up” design, emergent design, and interpretive inquiry for data analysis.

Findings

Two major themes emerged from the data: (1) developmental stage facilitates insight into the divorce process and (2) parental divorce leads to contemplating and reconceptualizing perceptions of self and interpersonal relationships.

Research limitations/implications

Results are relevant to researchers, parents, and practitioners as divorce is examined with a developmental lens. Findings suggest that the meaning and impact of parental divorce are distinct for emerging adult children, characterized by awareness and personal reflection. Implications for parenting and practice are provided.

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Purpose

The current study was designed to examine how and why divorced parents use computers and the Internet for communication with their coparent and with their child(ren).

Methodology/approach

The current study utilized the uses and gratification perspective. A subsample of 178 divorced parents with at least one child aged 25 or younger from a larger research project participated. Parents were recruited to participate in a 15-minute online survey through email listservs with a nationwide and demographically diverse reach.

Findings

Analyses revealed that divorced parents are active users of technology, for communicating with their child(ren) as well as with the child(ren)’s other parent. In addition, parents were comfortable using the Internet and accessing online parenting information, citing few barriers to use.

Research limitations/implications

We did not capture the reasons for communicating or the content of communication. Future research should use innovative methodologies and measures to better understand the use of specific technologies and tools to negotiate boundaries between coparents living apart. In addition, a larger, more diverse sample might reveal different patterns of divorced parents’ technology use.

Practical implications

Technology allows for asynchronous communication, staying up to date, making plans, and making decisions with minimal interaction, and thus maintaining boundaries. Our evidence suggests technology could help parents find areas of agreement around their children’s lives in a less contentious environment.

Originality/value

This study provides the essential groundwork for further examination of ways to support coparent communication via technology.

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Section III: Divorce Characteristics and Prevalence from a Multicultural Perspective

Purpose

The main purpose of the chapter is to analyze social research data on divorce in the USSR and Russia. The main method is literature review of statistic data on divorce since WWII and the results of representative opinion polls and local surveys, including author’s data.

Findings

The central conclusion is that methodological level, theoretical basis and continuity in empirical divorce research has been lacking in the last 25 years in the USSR and Russia (it concerns research techniques never piloted before; lack of clear definition and operationalization of variables when studying different aspects of divorce, etc.).

Methodology/approach

The chapter offers original research framework of divorce analysis – socially maladaptive family. It is includes external contexts of family functioning (changing legal norms concerning divorce and public opinion on it) and three aspects of “reproduction of human being” in family (material means for living; quantitative reproduction of the population, including birthrate; and qualitative reproduction of the population, including personal characteristics of family members and relationships between them).

Originality/value

Acquaintance with the content of the chapter will be useful for researchers of the family (especially who are interested the problems of divorce and quality of marriage) as foreign as Russian.

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Purpose

Family and work life have always been interdependent, because the increased employment of mothers, rising family hours of work, today’s service-intensive globalizing economy, and the trend toward work long hours for some and inadequate family income for the others have rendered this interdependence both more visible and more problematic. The extent to which an individual carries out their duties and responsibilities at work and home varies from one person to the other and how they balance up their roles and duties can be determined by a number of factors which include job-related factors, family-related factors, and individual factors.

Methodology/approach

A total of 255 married participants were randomly selected from the private sector, which includes banks, insurance companies, and telecommunication firms, in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. Data was elicited through the use of questionnaires as well as interview.

Findings

Findings from the chi-squared analysis used for this study showed that there is a significant relationship between work obligation and family commitment among couples in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.

Originality/value

One limitation of this study was that it was concentrated only on workers in the private sector. It was also limited by the methods of carrying out the research. The study emphasizes proper planning and time management, effective work schedule as well as an analysis of factors affecting work performance particularly, family duties, and how these affect the level of performance of individuals in their respective places of work.

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Purpose

Previous studies as well as anecdotes have indicated that parental involvement in adult children’s marital conflicts is fairly common in Korea. This study attempts to explain how in-law conflicts – arguably a structural outcome of the traditional Confucian family – lead to marital disruption in contemporary families.

Methodology/approach

This study adopts the hypotheses of the corporate group, mother identity, and gendered-role expectations, which are instrumental to understanding the social context in which the legacy of the Confucian culture interacts with the knowledge-based neoliberal economy to revive in-law conflicts. Divorced-couple data are from in-depth interviews and court rulings, and their analysis illustrates the trajectories of marital breakdown.

Findings

The findings provide support for the hypotheses. Parents, especially mothers, who heavily invested time and money in their children’s education and career building meddle in their marriages in hopes to ensure the best returns to their investment. Normative prescriptions of gendered roles provide references for the parents regarding the roles of their children and children-in-law, and the gaps between their expectations and perceived reality trigger parental meddling and in-law conflicts. Adult children who are indebted to the parents for their status formation may acquiesce to the parental intervention.

Social implications

In the traditional patriarchal family, in-law conflicts were restricted to mother- and daughter-in-law relationships, but are now extended to mother- and son-in-law relationships, reflecting a paradoxical twist in gender-role expectations. This chapter suggests that heavy parental investment in their children can have an unexpected consequence increasing the probability of adult children’s marital disruption.

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Purpose

This chapter explores how traditional femininity as a form of emphasized femininity influences single mothers’ decisions to be involved in romantic relationships. It explores how women negotiate the boundaries of emphasized femininity in making their choices related to involvement in romantic relationships.

Methodology/approach

The data for this study were collected by conducting in-depth interviews with 30 Malaysian Tamil women. They were selected using a purposive sampling method. The main criterion of selection was that participants were Malaysian Indian single mothers identifying Tamil as their mother tongue. Latent and manifest content analyses were used to scrutinize the interviews.

Findings

Single mothers identified their responsibilities qua mothers as the most important part of their life. Many have remained single because they were concerned about the well-being of their children. Other than that, many single mothers chose not to be involved in a romantic relationship because it may be stigmatized by their family or community. Involvement in a romantic relationship is seen as a transgression from the notion of traditional femininity, which is a form of emphasized femininity in Tamil society. Motherhood and karpu (chastity) are seen as central to the traditional notion of femininity in Tamil society.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the understanding of how emphasized femininity in a minority group in Malaysia influences single mothers’ decisions about romantic relationships. Furthermore, there are very few studies in Malaysia focusing on the experiences of single mothers from minority ethnic communities.

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Purpose

Studies on remarriages based on census data are not available in Bangladesh. Moreover, questions like why the remarriage rate is declining in Bangladesh despite the increasing trend of divorce rate and what factors are associated with this declining trend of remarriage are not answered yet. Thus the purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of divorces and the extent to which this has influenced the likelihood of remarriage in Bangladesh.

Methodology/approach

Univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analyses have been performed by analyzing the most recent and largest sample census data of ever married men and women aged 10 years and above collected in 2011.

Findings

The prevalence of remarriage is low in Bangladesh but more common in rural places of residence, substantially larger in slums when compared with non-slums, among Bengali ethnic people, rent-free tenancy, the age group of 45 years and over, the male population, people of Muslim religion, who have no education, and poorest wealth quintile. Muslim religion, slum dwelling status, employed status, media exposure, and urban residence stand out as the major determinants in terms of remarriage. Women having higher education and the richest quintile of households are less likely to be remarried than those who have lower education and are from the poorest wealth quintile background. Males who remarry also followed the same pattern. But remarriage is higher among both the divorced males and females as compared to widowed males and females. Strategic targeting and responsive social policies are needed to be implemented toward the differential pattern of remarriage by sub-groups of the population and their vulnerabilities in relation to their marital status and marital relation, to understand remarriage dynamics in Bangladesh.

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About the Authors

Pages 415-428
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Cover of Divorce, Separation, and Remarriage: The Transformation of Family
DOI
10.1108/S1530-3535201610
Publication date
2016-09-29
Book series
Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78635-229-3
Book series ISSN
1530-3535