CASE STUDIES; the Remarriage Box Ritual: Helping Stepfamilies Differentiate between Fear and Reality

By Meyerstein, Israela | Family Therapy Networker, July/August 2000 | Go to article overview

CASE STUDIES; the Remarriage Box Ritual: Helping Stepfamilies Differentiate between Fear and Reality


Meyerstein, Israela, Family Therapy Networker


At the beginning of the 21st century, remarriage is nearly as common as first marriages, yet more than 60 percent of remarriages end in divorce. Studies show that second marriages in which there are children in the family are twice as likely to end in divorce as remarriages in which there are no children. Every step toward acceptance and consolidation of the new family unit evokes loyalty binds, as children worry that they are deserting one or the other parent, or other family members. Family members' habitual roles may be called into question, and life-cycle needs often conflict. Many remarried couples conclude within the first months or years that their living experiment is failing, when, in fact, studies have shown that the estimated time it takes to adapt to being a stepfamily ranges from two to seven years.

Pre-remarital stepfamily counseling is extremely helpful in preparing families for the rocky road of remarriage, but families need even more: they need an experience that binds them together, even if only loosely and for a short moment, as a new, family unit. The Remarriage Box Ritual is a way for family members to express their ambivalence about the remarriage and find ways to symbolize both the gains and the losses they perceive. I developed the ritual while working with Cindy, her two children--16-year-old Anna and 11-year-old Tony and her fiance´, Ken. Cindy and Anna had come to see me a few years earlier to deal with chronic fighting--this was before Ken was in the picture. When they ended therapy, Cindy understood how to create appropriate boundaries for a teenager, and Anna was happier and less oppositional with her mother. Now, three years later, they were back in my office because they were fighting again, this time about Cindy and Ken's upcoming wedding.

"I can't believe you could be so hateful toward me," Cindy complained bitterly to her daughter, who slouched in her chair, arms tightly crossed, lips pouting, foot wagging furiously. "You're being uncooperative and mean spirited about my wedding plans!" Anna rolled her eyes: "You're not letting me invite all my friends, and I won't feel comfortable. I may not even come!" Tony nodded in support of his sister, although he avoided his mother's gaze. Ken looked perplexed--he had said he was happy about the impending marriage, but couldn't quite muster Cindy's full-blown enthusiasm for the wedding plans. Wanting to support Cindy, he told Tony and Anna, "You kids should be more enthusiastic about your mom's wedding."

This was Cindy's first solid relationship in many years, and she felt hurt, discouraged and confused by Anna's belligerence and acting out, and Tony's support of his sister. Both children claimed to like Ken, but the more Cindy insisted on happy esprit, the more upset the children became. The children were already part of one remarried family--they disliked their father's "bossy" new wife.

I interrupted Cindy and Anna's battle over whether Anna would help address the wedding invitations. "Do you think that if the children don't love the idea of your wedding, they don't love you?" I asked Cindy. She was surprised by the question and became thoughtful. Maybe, she said, she had been equating the two, but now that it was said aloud, she realized how absurd that was.

Next, I invited the children to say more specifically what they didn't like about the fact that their mother was going to marry Ken. They both said they liked Ken, but they resented not having a choice--he was moving in, whether they liked him or not. I validated their feelings and explained that they needed to learn how to talk about and negotiate how they would all live together in harmony. Anna was intrigued when I said that bringing up negative feelings didn't mean they couldn't have any positive ones, too. I explained that remarriage is born of loss of a previous relationship or family structure, and that everyone experienced this loss in a very personal, and often different way, even in the same family. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

CASE STUDIES; the Remarriage Box Ritual: Helping Stepfamilies Differentiate between Fear and Reality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.