Personal history or personality? differences in relationship quality between remarriages and first marriages



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The current study is the first to explore how reported reasons for divorce are associated with the emotional climate of subsequent marriages, and if the emotional climate of these relationships is significantly different from that of happy or unhappy first marriages. It also examines whether variations in the emotional climate of marriage are reducible to underlying personality characteristics. These issues were investigated using data from the Texas Baseline Survey on Marriage. Results indicate that there are two types of marriage that end in divorce: those preceded by a highly distressed marriage, and those preceded by a less distressed marriage. Regardless of emotional tenor of the marriage prior to divorce, the emotional climate of remarriages appears to be largely similar to that of happy first marriages and substantially better than that of unhappy first marriages. Although individuals with different relationship histories possess distinct personality profiles, the differences in emotional climate persist after the effects of personality have been taken into account. Overall, these results suggest that accounting for differences among those who have divorced, as well as distinguishing between happy and unhappy first marriages, is important for understanding the affective nature of marriage.