Using grounded theory methodology 24 participants were asked to discuss how the death of a previous spouse, either theirs or their partner’s, was currently affecting their second marriage. Participants were interviewed individually and as a couple. The central category was memories of the deceased spouse. Six additional categories emerged from the data: past spouse on pedestal, current/past comparison, insecurity of current spouse, curiosity about past spouse/relationship, partner’s response to curiosity, and impact on the current relationship. Existing literature, auditors, and participant feedback were all used to validate the results. Expanding on a tentative theory (Brimhall, Wampler, & Kimball, 2008), provisional hypotheses were developed, thus helping clinicians who work with complex issues involving remarried couples.
Previously published in Family Process, 2011, (50)1, 47-62