Archive for the ‘Stepfamily Divorce Rate’ Category

“What if I fart while I’m getting the massage?” I ask Rachel.

We’re at a bed and breakfast in the Michigan countryside.  I signed us up for the couple’s side-by-side massage Saturday morning.  We slept in, ate a late breakfast at 9:30, snowshoed through the woods, lolled in bed some more, and are now dressing to walk downstairs for our massage.

I’m feeling a little gas coming on.  If I’m on the table, and something bubbles up, my choices are to let loose, or hold it in.  The first option seems rude, but tightening up for an hour doesn’t seem very relaxing.

“Yeah,” Rachel says as she pulls her jeans on, “it’s a problem.”

It’s hard to complain, though, when my only concern on a Saturday morning is whether I’ll pass gas during a one-hour massage.  Rachel and I are rewarding ourselves for a long and successful marriage with this weekend trip of good food, sleep,whirpool tub, and spa services. 

It’s our second anniversary. 

The uninitiated may scoff at calling a two-year marriage “long and successful,” but I guarantee that anyone who already had kids, and married someone with kids, knows that a two year tour of duty in this business – with no casualties – is a dramatic achievement.  That’s why the failure rate for blended family marriages is 70%.  It’s not for the faint-of-heart.

Stepmarriage years are like dog years.  You know: one dog year equals seven human years?  Same with a step marriage.  We’ve got the battle scars of a 14-year-old traditional marriage. 

So – we’re entitled to our weekend, whirpool tub, and swedish massages.

And if I need to fart, I will.


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divorcerate2 001I’d always heard that the divorce rate for second marriages was higher than for first marriages. I was curious, though: what about the divorce rate for second marriages that included stepchildren? I did some googling. Yikes.


The overall U.S. divorce rate is about 50%.


The divorce rate for second marriages is 60%.


The divorce rate for second marriages where one of the spouses already has children is 65%.

Drum roll: The divorce rate for Rachel and my category – where both spouses already have children – is a whopping 70%.

I immediately call Rachel. I tell her the statistics.

“Jesus,” she says.

I tell her I’m actually pleased to discover the difficulty of what we’ve undertaken. It’s as if we’re climbing the highest marital peak. We’ll leave Mt. Hood to lesser couples: we’re tackling Everest. “We rock!” I say to Rachel on the phone.

“Yeah,” she says, “Or, we’re screwed.”

The statistics don’t worry me. Nineteen months of marriage has dispelled any starry-eyed visions we may have had about a very Brady stepfamily life, but I am as sure as I was on our wedding day that we will be married till death do us part. Why? I could list a bunch of stuff: we get each other’s jokes, have the same values, and both prefer Dairy Queen to Baskin Robbins. Plus, Rachel’s hot. But ultimately it comes down to this: we’ve decided this is it. Whatever happens, we’re together. The cross-currents in stepfamilies are treacherous – the work of traditional first-marriage families is child’s play compared to what stepfamilies must navigate. But even in the most difficult moments, I have always known that Rachel’s commitment to me and to my daughter is unshakeable. Same with me, to Rachel and her sons.

And there’s this: Two years ago, after Rachel and I got engaged, but while it was still just Alani and I living together in this house, my daughter and I lay together one night. I’d just read to her. She was nine.

“Dad,” she said after I put the book down, “You wouldn’t get divorced again, would you?

“No, honey,” I said, “I won’t.”

“Because, that would be….” she trailed off.

“Lame?” I said.


Most brides and grooms make vows to each other. Rachel and I did that, but we also made vows to three children. How do you break that promise? You don’t.

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