Over the past 25 years, attitudes toward second marriages have been tempered by society's growing acceptance of divorce. Anne, a 32-year-old woman who has plans of her own to marry a divorced man with children, remembers her mother's remarriage in the mid-1970s: "There was no such thing as family counseling. There were no books for children about divorce or stepfamilies. We were expected to just 'get along' with our new sisters and brothers -- but let me tell you, we were no Brady Bunch!"
While the divorce rate in stepfamilies is higher than that in nuclear families, Dr. Peter Marshall, author of Cinderella Revisited: How to Survive Your Stepfamily Without a Fairy Godmother, says that there are two points that need to be made: "The first is that this risk decreases after the first three years; it's the early phase of stepfamily development that seems to place particular strain on the marriage ... The second point is that knowing the potential risks can be useful: it signals the need to take steps to increase the chance of not contributing to the high divorce rate."
The million-dollar question is: why do some marriages work while others fail? John Gottman, a psychology professor who claims his research will predict with 91 percent accuracy whether a couple will stay together, says that the key to marital happiness and success is friendship. Some of the most important aspects of this type of friendship are knowing each other intimately, demonstrating affection and respect for each other on a daily basis, and genuinely enjoying each other's company. Gottman based his findings on 25 years of marital research, which he presents in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.