Relationship Maintenance and
Enhancement in Remarried Families
Shannon Weaver University of Missouri
Living in a stepfamily requires a continual and deliberate effort.
—Pill (1990, p. 190)
Remarried families, also known as reconstituted, blended, and stepfamilies, consist of an adult couple and at least one child from a previous relationship (Ganong & Coleman, 1994a). This definition encompasses married and cohabiting couples, homosexual and heterosexual unfions, and is not limited to families in which all of the members live together. The defining dimension of remarried families is that one of the adults is an adoptive or genetic parent to a child who is unrelated to the other adult—the stepparent. The stepchild may be of any age from infancy to adulthood.
Remarried families are common in the United States, Canada, and Europe (Cherlin, 1992; Kiernan, 1992; Wu, 1994). Approximately half of the marriages in the United States represent a remarriage for one or both partners (Cherlin, 1992). In 1992, 15% of all U. S. children lived with a mother and a stepfather, and an estimated one third of U. S. children will spend some time in a household with a remarried or cohabiting stepparent before they reach adulthood. About 60% of females in the United States will live for some time over their life courses in a stepfamily household (Bumpass, Raley, & Sweet, 1995).
Remarried families are faced with multiple relationship challenges (Coleman & Ganong, 1995), such as maintaining ties with family members