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J Fam Issues. 1992 Jun;13(2):179-94.

Starting over. Why remarriages are more unstable.



Previously divorced and remarried couples have a higher probability of divorce and decline in marital quality. Models which have explained this behavior focus on: willingness to leave marriage; selection; socioeconomic status; the remarriage market; and incomplete marriages. Each model is examined among a population of marrieds and remarrieds to distinguish attributes and the extent to which these attributes increase the probability of decline in marital quality or divorce. Data were obtained from a sample of 2033 marrieds 55 years old who were interviewed over the telephone in 1980, 1983, and 1988 in the Marital Instability Over the Life Course Study. Incomplete marriage was measured by whether and to what extent parents or parents-in-law made contact and the number of relatives that party was close to. Willingness to leave was based on attitudes to divorce and the ability to handle emotion and financial affairs if the marriage ended. Selection referred to poor marriage material (drugs or alcohol, criminal conduct, mismanagement of money, immature behavior. Socioeconomic status was reflected in occupational status, educational levels, and income. The marriage market was a measure of age, education, and religious differences. Marital quality was examined in terms of happiness, interaction, disagreement, and divorce proneness. Multiple classification analysis was used to compare attributes by marital history. The methods of Kessler and Greenberg were used to examine changes in marital quality over time in first time marriages and remarriages. The results indicate that individuals in remarriages have relationships with attributes which potentially lower marital quality and increase the probability of divorce. When both individuals have prior marriage and divorce experience, there is even lower social integration, greater willingness to leave marriage, higher probability of marrying as a teen, lower socioeconomic status, and greater likelihood of age differences. Remarriage variables and marital quality variables both showed linear relationships. Remarriage variables and marital quality variables both showed linear relationships. In the cross sectional analysis of the 1980 data there is a statistically significant relationship with attributes which potentially lower marital quality in 1980 indicates remarried persons are more prone to lower marital quality than people in first marriages.

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