Divorces on the Rise?
Divorce, or dissolution of marriage as it is termed in most states, has, with little exception, been on the rise since the early 1900s when the divorce rate was around 5%. Back then, women had few rights and were usually not in a position to support themselves should they seek a divorce. Men were even allowed to abuse their wives as in the eyes of most people; the woman was the property of her husband. Slowly, as woman gained the right to vote, to own property, to get a university education, to work outside the home, and to have the status of equality with their husbands, more and more divorces occurred. Additionally, as society as a whole began to accept divorce as the way to end a marriage where there was adultery, cruelty or abandonment the divorce rate began to climb. By 1950 the divorce rate was 14% and by the mid-seventies, likely spurred upward with all 50 states introducing no-fault divorce,the rate had risen to 30%. With a small exception in the 1980s and ’90s when the divorce rate lowered slightly, divorces have climbed to the current rate of 50% give or take a few points depending on how data is collected and presented. And, according to recent research findings, with the aging of baby boomers, and the frequency of remarriage following a divorce, the divorce rate will continue to hover near the 50% mark and possibly even rise.
It is interesting to note that while couples are generally waiting to marry until their late twenties, early thirties which generally makes divorce less likely, the longer life span and the ease with which a couple can obtain a divorce keeps the divorce rate up. Since divorce is no longer a social stigma and such help as divorce document services and do-it-yourself divorce kits are readily available along with “no reason needed” except for one of the couples saying the marriage is irrevocably broken, divorce has become a way out, often without trying to make the marriage work. The adage“life is greener on the other side” seems to be the mindset of many of today’s couples.In fact,many couples are now using pre-marital agreements to ensure their assets, protect children from former marriages, and set alimony (except temporary) just in case” they want a divorce. In other words, couples today usually enter marriage hoping but not expecting their union to last “until death do us part”.
An interesting dynamic of the divorce scene is the rapid increase in what is called “gray divorce”, that is the divorce of couples over the age of 50. Some couples stay together until their children are raised. Some couples find they each are going their own way, and as life moves into the declining years, they want to be free to be themselves and perhaps even meet someone who they are better suited to. Also, second and beyond marriages have a greater chance of failure,and so these couples are more likely to be in the over 50 age group.
Divorce is rarely a “win, win”. It is sad more couples aren’t willing to work harder to find the pleasure a lifetime of togetherness can bring. There are rough spots in any marriage,but there are also good times as well. Of course,if there is abuse, abandonment, or adultery, there are sound reasons for divorcing. No one can know their partner in life completely, especially before marriage, but it is wise to give a relationship time to develop and grow deeper, both before and after the wedding vows.