Possible Directions for Future Research
The findings of this study would benefit from diversifying the sample, and seeking the input of male respondents, and interviews with couples. These respondents were all biological mothers in addition to being stepmothers. Studies considering the impact of other stepcouple constellations would enhance the exploration of attachment injury in stepcouples. Therefore, future studies might consider stepmothers with no biological children of their own, stepfathers with their own children, biological fathers with no stepchildren, unmarried/committed couples and homosexual couples of both genders.
Future research might focus on the resilience of stepfamilies who perceive low levels of threat to their couple bond. The respondents in this study were selected due to their perception that their problems were a significant threat to their relationship. It might be helpful to both stepfamily and attachment research to identify the factors that might contribute to stepcouples who experience difficulties, but do not perceive high levels of threat to their relationship.
Finally, future research might examine the usefulness and efficacy of “pre-re- marital” programs as a preventative for re-divorce, as well as program models to mitigate problems found in existing stepfamilies. The statistical chance for divorce after remarriage is pronounced for remarriages involving children, putting those children and families at risk for other problems. Such programs, created through the attachment framework, could be profoundly effective.
The strength and commitment of the respondents in this study were remarkable. All expressed some form of feeling overwhelmed by maintaining their stepfamily, some additionally challenged by factors such as illness or injury. However, they continued to use their hearts and minds to attempt to make their stepfamily function well. All of the respondents had come from the Stepfamily Association of America website: This suggests that they were of a mind to attempt to gather resources and use them. That they volunteered to participate in a research project showed their curiosity, and as each one said, they wanted to help add to the body of knowledge for the benefit of other stepfamilies.
The respondents in these interviews were asked to delve into subjects obviously emotionally difficult for them. In this way, they gave of themselves; based on the questions, it had to take its toll. It sometimes felt difficult to take them to what was, at times, a very sad place. Always there was a sense of care, to ensure that the respondent felt comfortable to continue.
Finally, this researcher was reared in, and now co-parents in a stepfamily. There was knowledge that came, not from books and articles, but from experience. Stepfamily formation is, on its best day, a joyous reward for much hard work. This personal experience enabled a level of empathy with the respondents that might not have been possible otherwise. Although every effort was made to let the respondents inform the