First and Second Marriages

First and Second Marriages

First and Second Marriages

First and Second Marriages


This book is a pathbreaking longitudinal study that provides in-depth information about the lives of middle class second-marriage couples. Focusing on marital happiness, husband-wife equality, dual career problems, and children, the author followed 156 couples for three to four years, interviewing both spouses and analyzing the data according to the joint marital history of the couple. In addition to examining how children adapt to remarriage, this provocative study outlines early warning signs of impending marital trouble, discusses the chances for people over thirty and of those previously divorced to have happy marriages, and explores the common problems faced by remarried persons.


This study of first and second marriages began with the same questions that may have drawn the reader to open this book. What do remarried people do differently the second time around? Do divorced persons seem to learn from their mistakes? What are the chances for marital happiness if one marries a divorced person or if one is no longer quite so young? These simple (and perhaps, in retrospect, simplistic) questions led to other questions and hypotheses, the answers to which ultimately took the form of this book.

The research paralleled my own (first) marriage -- shortly after the time-2 interviews -- and has become a part of my own life history, from a "honeymoon" spent mostly at the computer center to packing suitcases full of questionnaires and printouts when we moved to Germany, then trying to find time in between teaching, learning a new language, having a baby, and coping with several major illnesses in the family. That this book was possible at all is due in no small measure to the helpfulness of many people along the way, whom I would like to take this opportunity to thank.

My greatest debt is to my husband, Werner, whose help went so far beyond simple moral support that I cannot begin to enumerate his many contributions, and to my son, Werner, for being a happy and "easy" child. a number of people at Michigan State University gave excellent guidance during the initial research phases, in particular Bo Anderson -- to whom I owe a special debt of gratitude -- and Barrie Thorne, Beatrice Paolucci, and Frederick Waisanen. Others at msu gave help at specific points where it was needed, among them Harry Schwarzweller, Philip Marcus, Edna Rogers, Harry Perlstadt, Bernard Finifter, Bill Ewens, Mel Kalish, Tracy Paget, Carolyn Thomas, Marilyn Lovall, Meg Cook, and Maija Kupsis. Good interviewers, as I soon learned, cannot be had for money alone, and I am particularly grateful to Mark and Claire Sandler, Michael Schneiderman, Mike Radelet, and Ann Schrorder, as well as to Dennis Bozyk for facilitating contacts with Detroit-area interviewers. Much of the initial cooperation of couples, especially reluctant husbands, is due to the incomparable telephone skills of Maureen Aquilina. Elayne Ballance gave so much more than her typing skills. the Sociology Department at msu provided much in the way of telephone and computer access and photocopying.

During later phases, Herbert Hofmann and Rainer Schnopp were of great assistance with specific computer runs, and Donna Poppendieck offered her typing skills for key chapters. the University of Maryland, Munich campus, provided photocopying for the time-3 questionnaires, as . . .

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