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Marital Relationships

Although some studies of marital quality find no differences between first-married and remarried couples, other studies find remarried couples have lower quality relationships than first-marrieds. This could be because remarried couples express more disagreement, criticism, and anger; this negativity is usually focused on issues related to stepchildren. Indeed, when both spouses are stepparents, marital relationships are poorer than in families with a child or children of one spouse only. In addition, emotional attachment to a former spouse is also related to lower marital satisfaction. However, no differences in marital satisfaction have been found between stepmother and stepfather families, or between remarried couples in which children live in the home as compared to couples with children living in the ex-spouse's home.

Many studies have compared marrieds and remarrieds on various aspects of the marital relationship. Compared to first-married, remarried husbands and wives are more egalitarian in general, but have been found to be no different in decisionmaking power regarding issues directly related to their marriage; remarrieds do not avoid talking about marital problems more than first-marrieds. Further, remarried husbands and wives report being more autonomous with respect to childrearing and finances. Although remarried spouses are much more likely to have separate financial accounts, there is no difference in the marital satisfaction between those with separate accounts and those who pool their monies in one account. Also, remarried wives report having more autonomy regarding friendships and family and having more power in general in the marital relationship than wives in first marriages. Although household duties tend to be based on traditional sex roles in both first marriages and remarriages, remarried husbands do more housework than first-married husbands. In addition, remarried spouses are less similar in age than first-married spouses, and they are not as emotionally close to extended family members. It is important to keep in mind that these differences between first-marrieds and remarrieds may be, at least in part, due to the age differences between the adults in these two groups; by definition, remarrieds are older than first-marrieds on average. The effect of remarriage on the physical and psychological well-being of men and women is not known. Studies comparing divorced adults to remarried adults, and remarried men to remarried women have been done, but the results of these studies are inconsistent.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaDivorceRemarriage - Factors Affecting Likelihood Of Remarriage After Divorce Or Death Of Spouse, Marital Relationships, Remarriage In Later Life