"Not a replacement": Emotional experiences and practical consequences of Israeli second couplehood stepfamilies constructed in old age

Chaya Koren, Sharon Lipman-Schiby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The increase in life expectancy enhances phenomena such as second couplehood in old age following widowhood or divorce as an alternative way of coping with changes that occur with aging. Research on the phenomenon has focused mainly on individual and dyadic perspectives of the repartnered. The aim of this article was to explore repartnering from the stepfamily's perspective, which has scarcely been studied. Nineteen Israeli stepfamilies (38 multigenerational families) were recruited using criterion sampling, of men who repartnered at age 65 + and women at 60 +, with children and grandchildren from a lifelong marriage that ended in widowhood or divorce. We audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim 107 semi-structured, qualitative interviews with older partners, their adult children, and grandchildren. Analysis was based on grounded theory and dyadic analysis principles adapted to families. It showed how repartnering in old age changed the family structure, constructing complex stepfamilies, which require further study. Emotional experiences refer to repartnering being a replacement for couplehood but not for parenthood/grandparenthood. Practical consequences refer to "knowing their place" within the stepfamily and included the following subthemes: showing affection; participating in memorials for the deceased spouse; sharing, listening, and assisting. Findings are discussed regarding life course and family life cycle perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-82
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Volume31
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • Family life cycle
  • Life course
  • Old age
  • Repartnering
  • Second couplehood
  • Stepfamilies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects

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