We all know them or know of them, people who get divorced and immediately remarry or move in with someone else. Think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but without the millions of dollars in the bank or constant trail of paparazzi.

We talk about these couples in hushed tones, telling our friends, "It will never work out." After all, don't these people need time and space before jumping into another serious relationship or, gasp, a rebound marriage?

Not necessarily, according to Nicholas Wolfinger, an associate professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah. "People always predict gloom and doom in a rebound relationship," he said. "We've always thought that, but it's not the case."

Newly released research by Wolfinger indicates no relationship between rebound marriages and divorce rates. His analysis of 1,171 adults found that rebound time, the months between an initial divorce and subsequent remarriage, had no impact on the remarriage's stability.

"All I'm saying is there's no higher divorce rate if you rush right into your second marriage than if you're single 10 years after your divorce and then remarry," Wolfinger said.

The U. professor looked only at relationships that ended in marriage, whether they began with cohabitation or not. He was prompted to conduct the research because of the lack of data and preconceived notions about the fate of rebound marriages.

"It's something that I'd been asked over and over for years and I never had a good answer," Wolfinger said.

Even the wildly popular Dr. Phil McGraw, television's favorite psychologist, reaffirms the notion by searching for Americans who feel "trapped" in a rebound marriage but who are unwilling to admit they've made a mistake.

"Were you in a long-term relationship that ended abruptly . . . and you jumped right into another one?" the TV talk show host's Web site asks. "Do you realize you've made a mistake by saying 'I do' too soon . . . but can't find a way to get out of the relationship?"

Wolfinger said such shows perpetuate the myth that rebound marriages have a greater propensity to end in divorce, which is not true.

That's the good news. But even at normal rates, second marriages, rebound or otherwise, are in no way a lock. The divorce rate for second marriages is just over 50 percent, compared to right around 40 percent for first marriages, Wolfinger said.

Wolfinger attributes the higher rate to several factors, with the stress caused by stepchildren at the top of the list. "More generally, though, you just have a population of people who've already shown they're more willing to get divorced."


E-mail: awelling@desnews.com