The increase of divorce in America has been at an alarming rate. In the recent years, the divorce rates have been increasing while the marriage rates have been declining. There have been changes in the definition of a family in the current generation.
This is quite discouraging even to the people who are not married. One wonders at the purpose of the marriage vows and the place they have in an individual’s life.
Solot admits that she did not have the enthusiasm to get married.” Perhaps it has to do with too many unhappily married people and the divorces I’ve seen, too many breezily pledged lifetime vows that lose their meaning long before the lifetimes end”(Solot, 2011, p481).
The dillusionment with marriage is quite understandable due to the high rates of divorce. Young women now prefer to cohabit rather than take the vows or walk down the aisle. In fact when several married couples are questioned they admit that they lived with their partner before they got married. Some of them even had children before they did a formal union.
The high divorce rates have caused researchers to investigate the major causes of divorce. There have also been parallel studies conducted on the causes of the decline in marriage.
A study on couples investigating causes of divorce found that couples cited infidelity as one of the major causes of divorce. In marriages where one of the partners has admitted to fidelity, it was also a very high predicting factor for divorce. When a partner is unfaithful, it mostly ends up with the marriage going to the rocks.
However, fidelity should not be construed to be the major cause of divorce. Infidelity is usually as a result of estrangement between the spouses. There is low communication and the spouses are unsatisfied in their relationship.
The couples who see the real causes and not infidelity progress faster in future relationships than the ones who do not. “Infidelity appears to play a central role in many people’s understandings of how their marriages unravel, and individuals who cite infidelity as a cause of divorce show poorer adjustment than individuals who cite other causes” (Amato, 2003)
Other reasons for divorce that were given were personality clashes and lack of communication. The partners are unable to communicate or listen to each other leading to frustration. There are other major causes of divorce such as mental cruelty, physical abuse, drug use and drinking.
The study found that women were more active than their men in identifying problems in the relationship and desiring to solve the issue. The men were generally very passive. Due to these differences in behavior between the genders, the men could not really recall or narrate what caused the divorce while the women would narrate very clearly.
Researchers have put forward that people marry when the gains from marriage exceed the gains in being single. The people marry to have children, conduct risk pooling in terms of sharing resources and to share leisure time. When individuals come together they now have access to higher levels of wealth. They can achieve so much than they would have achieved if they were alone.
The main reason people marry is not for money, however it is a great byproduct for the ones who are doing well financially.
However with advances in the market place, in terms of decrease in discrimination against women in the market place and changes in technology allowing what required skilled labor to be done by less skilled individual has made the gains in marriage seem low. Women now have financial independence and the invention of the pill caused them to limit disruption in their professional careers. This has given women the economic power to end divorce if they so wish.
In times of economic hardship, there is stress in the family with the relationship more likely to disintegrate into divorce. During the booms and recessions in the economy, researchers have found out that the divorce rates decrease and increase respectively.
Research has shown that wealth and education works towards the couples having a healthier marriage.” Marriage has declined across all income groups, but it has declined far less among couples who make the most money and have the best education. These couples are also less likely to divorce”(Harden, 2011, p 481). The wealthy tend to choose among their economic class. It is the realization of what financial strain can do to a marriage.
The well-educated partners have higher standards of relationship. They expect a substantial level or high level of emotional support, companionship and relationship fulfillment. They therefore tend to choose people from the same social class so that they are not disappointed.
Another cause of divorce has been changes in legislature removing hurdles from couples or individuals who want to divorce their partners. “In the 1950s, most states required evidence of marital fault before allowing a marriage to be dissolved.
Beginning in the late 1960s, many states introduced “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce; effectively ushering in a period of unilateral divorce— divorce upon the request of either spouse, regardless of the wishes of his or her partner”(Stevenson & Wolfers, 2007) Now, partners can easily divorce their partners. There is no motivation to keep working at the marriage to ensure it succeeds.
The reasons why couples divorce are many but the main ones are communication breakdown, estrangement, financial problems, infidelity, emotional torture, physical abuse and substance abuse.
Amato, P. (2003) People’s Reasons For Divorcing: Gender, Social Class, The Life Course, And Adjustment. Journal of Family Issues, 24 (5), 602-626 Retrieved From:
Harden, B. (2011) “Numbers Drop For The Married-With-Children” In G.
Goshgarian, The Contemporary Reader (10th Ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
Solot, D. (2011) “On Not Saying “I Do” In G. Goshgarian, The Contemporary Reader (10th Ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
Stevenson, B. & Wolfers, J. (2007) Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their driving forces. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(2), 27–52. Retrieved From: Http://Bpp.Wharton.Upenn.Edu/Betseys/Papers/JEP_Marriage_And_Divorce.Pdf