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The remarriage family and the former spouse : marital adjustment and family cohesion Marshall, Deborah Ann


It has been suggested that 25% of marriages in Canada are remarriages (Schlesinger, 1981). In such remarriages it has been recommended that the non-custodial parent have minimal contact with the new family (Goldstein, Freud & Solnit, 1973). More recently, therapists have begun to recognise the importance of having permeable boundaries in remarriage families which allow all significant family members to stay involved (Messinger, 1985; Sager et al., 1983). This research study Included 33 families in which the wife had remarried after a divorce, and had children from the previous marriage. A total of 105 subjects participated including 33 wives, 30 stepfathers and 42 adolescents. Employing an anonymous questionnaire format, the following hypotheses were tested: (1) There is a significant relationship between the wife's contact with her former spouse and family cohesion. (2) There is a relationship between contact with the former spouse and marital adjustment. (3) There is a positive relationship between balanced cohesion and marital adjustment. (4) There will be less variance between family members on cohesiveness when there is moderate contact with the former spouse. The total frequency of contact was assessed over a three month period, and subjects were grouped according to No Contact, Telephone Contact Only and Personal Contact. Eighty-two percent of the children were found to have contact with their non-custodial father once per month or less. Statistical analysis supported the relationship between marital adjustment and former spouse contact. Pearson Correlation Coefficients revealed a significant relationship between cohesion and marital adjustment. The strongest relationships were found in the husband scores in both cases. The relationship between cohesion and frequency of contact with the former spouse was not statistically significant. No significant difference in variance on cohesion scores was found between groups with No Contact or Personal Contact with the former spouse. The sample was found to be within the norms (Spanier, 1976) on the marital adjustment measure, and significantly below established norms (Olson et al., 1985) on cohesion.

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