Divorce and remarriage have a profound effect on the parents and can have harmful effects on the future relationships of their children. Marriage is a complicated and an arduous process with many trials. However, remarriage and the concept of a stepfamily is akin to walking barefoot on hot coals. The dynamics of a stepfamily is dictated early by the fantasies and the subsequently the realities of the marriage and stepfamily issues.
In The Fantasy of the Perfect Mother, Nancy Chodorow and Susan Contratto call this “primary process” thinking. It means acting on fantasies and emotions rather than analyzation and interpretation. A marriage involves primary process as people fall in love and subsequently the realities of the hardship of marriage hits them. However, this process dominates a remarriage even more. Individuals entering into the remarriage are confident that they can make a marriage work. However, the result is that these remarriages fail at a greater percentage rate than those that occur the first time around. This situation is complicated even more if there is presence of children from previous marriage of the spouse. This “thinking process” is learned by the children inhabiting a stepfamily and then dominates their thought and actions into adulthood. A remedy of this situation is for the stepfamily to undergo this thinking process and to emerge with stronger and healthier relationships as a result of this ordeal.
The fantasies and misconceptions enveloping a family are illustrated in Nancy Chodorow and Susan Contratto’s “Fantasy of the Perfect Mother.” In the article, the authors present feminist theories and concepts that attack the idea of motherhood. Some of them present the belief that a mother can never be perfect in the rearing of her children and society will continue to harbor “unprocessed, infantile fantasies about mothers” (Chodorow and Contratto, 7). This idea is directly connected to the problems people encounter when they enter into the lair of a stepfamily as a member. This issue has been entitled “primary process” thinking. This idea of primary process thinking does not have to spell gloom and doom for the stepfamily unit. Nancy Chodorow and Susan Contratto provide a solution. “Secondary process” thinking entails thoughtful analysis and reaction to the surprising realities of a situation, instead of a preconceived, inflexible and emotional response to stepfamily problems.
Since times immemorial to the present, America has experienced incredible change in the family arena. Divorce was very rare in Colonial America. It was hard for both men and women. In Puritan New England, you could get a divorce if your spouse couldn’t have children. Most colonies granted what we would call "permanent separations" but neither party could remarry. Many men and some women "divorced" their spouse by leaving town or the colony. (Source: Making America: A History of the Unites States Volume a to 1877 by Carol Berkin) If the...