Remarriage for couples in their second and third marriage face unique challenges 

Stepfamilies face unique challenges. While a significant percentage of marriages in Australia will end in divorce, (around 1 in 3 according to research (Jain, S., 2007)) a larger proportion of remarriages will end in divorce. According to 2015 Australia Bureau of Statistics data, marriages where both partners were marrying for the first time accounted for 71.9% of all marriages. The proportion of remarriages for both partners increased from 11.5% in 2014 to 11.7% in 2015.

Whilst marriages are lasting longer - those that do end in divorce are lasting 12 years, which is two years longer than they did 20 years ago - the probability that a marriage will end in divorce has been increasing over the decades. Based on the nuptiality tables, around 28% of marriages entered into in 1985–1987 could be expected to end in divorce. This proportion increased to 33% for all marriages entered into in 2000–2002.

What does this mean for couples and families in second or third marriages:

  • The first two years of creating a stepfamily are considered as stressful as the first two years following a divorce.
  • Parental influence is often diminished when children have more than one set of parents.
  • It is often necessary for stepfamilies to do more negotiating than traditional families (e.g. where children will spend holidays, etc.), and these issues can be emotionally loaded.
  • Before marriage, relationship satisfaction is closely related to what is happening in the couple’s relationship, but after marriage, relationship satisfaction is closely related to what is happening with other relationships (child, ex-spouses, etc.).

Using PREPARE/ENRICH with step families:

  • When working on communication skills and managing conflict, the couple choose a stepfamily-related topic to discuss.
  • Paying close attention to the “Partner Style & Habits” scale has been shown to be highly predictive of step couple success. Couples reflect on how they believe these issues may play out in their relationship and how they may play out in the child-stepparent relationship.
  • Couples discuss and define the stepparent roles (e.g. how will the biological parent make space for the stepparent to be included in the parenting process).
  • Couples embrace realistic expectations concerning how long it may take for their family to feel a sense of family identity. Share with them that the average time to form a new healthy stepfamily identity is seven years.

Love and/or good relationships may or may not happen immediately between stepfamily members. It will likely take time for emotional bonds to develop; some will bond quickly, others slowly but what we do know is that remarriage is a challenge for children.


  • Deal, R.L.,2014: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family, Bethany House Publishers
  • Jain, S., 2007: Lifetime Marriage and Trends, Australian National University, Australian Social Trends

The PREPARE/ENRICH Parenting Version: Register here >

Getting Started:
For Parents:

  • To get started with the Parenting Version of PREPARE/ENRICH, you will need to locate a qualified facilitator of relationship and parental education. PREPARE/ENRICH Certified facilitators can be located in your area by contacting PREPARE/ENRICH or by using the search facility on the website: For Couples

For Facilitators:

  • To get started with the Parenting Version of PREPARE/ENRICH, you will need to become PREPARE/ENRICH Certified by attending a Workshop.
  • Once trained, Contact Us to activate the Parenting Version in your facilitator account.
  • The cost to activate the Parenting Version is $40

The PREPARE/ENRICH Parenting Version: Register here >

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on the Parenting Version or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich

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