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Personal Relationships

An Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 June 2018

Anita L. Vangelisti
University of Texas, Austin
Daniel Perlman
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
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Divorce is a process rather than a discrete event, and this process potentially leads to a variety of relationship configurations. In this chapter, we discuss demographic information related to divorce and step-relationships, as well as the process of divorce and post-divorce relationship formations. From the 1960’s to 1990’s, the United States experienced a period of increasingly favorable attitudes toward divorce; today, over half of Americans recognize that divorce may be preferred to an unhappy marriage. Although divorce rates have declined since the 1980’s (mostly due to decreasing marriage rates and increasing cohabitation rates, especially among ethnic minorities), divorce is still relatively common. The process of divorce contains multiple dimensions (e.g., economic, emotional, community), and individuals adjust to these dimensions with varying degrees of effectiveness. Coparenting relationships after divorce may range from nonexistent to cordial to contentious. People quickly repartner after divorce; many cohabit, and eventually remarry. Repartnering after divorce, especially for parents and their children, involves complex interpersonal dynamics that require building new intimate relationships while maintaining bonds with former spouses and nonresidential parents. We recommend that researchers investigate relationship-maintenance and relationship-building following divorce. A better understanding of cohabiting relationships, remarriages, serial unions, and coparenting would be beneficial.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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