The Modern American and Divorce

  • divorce

For decades it has been the common consensus that divorce rates continue to rise and that half of all marriages in the United States will end up in divorce. This theory began in the 1980’s when divorce was at its highest rate of 40% and was expected to continue to climb. However, researchers found that ever since then, divorce has been on the decline. Data from the National Survey of Family Growth says the probability of a first marriage lasting at least a decade was 68% for women and 70% for men between 2006 and 2010. The probability that they would make it 20 years was 52% for women and 56% for men.

While this is hopeful news for married couples, divorce itself has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. The 1960’s were when Americans were first allowed no-fault divorces. “In 1969, Ronald Reagan, then governor of California and himself a divorcee, signed the state’s Family Law Act, introducing the concept of irreconcilable differences” (source: TIME).

Although divorce was becoming more accepted, it was still a taboo topic. “In 1964, Nelson Rockefeller couldn’t become president because he was divorced. There was never a law that you couldn’t be divorced and become president, it was just inconceivable at the time” (source: Steven Mintz, University of Texas).

Fast forward to the late 70’s and the 80’s and that’s when divorce started to become more of a common household word, along with the highest rate the country had ever seen. Skip ahead to the present day, and while divorce can be painful, people are finding that if they find the will, there is a way to make the process less extreme and more hopeful for all individuals involved. There are other couples that have been through the divorce process that divorced individuals can relate to, there are more resources available, and it is widely accepted these days that the modern day family comes in all shapes and sizes. There is a better understanding that if children are involved, it is more fitting for them to have separated parents than to live in a house surrounded by an unhealthy marriage.

While it is great news that marriages are lasting longer and fewer are ending in a divorce, it is also wonderful that divorce is slowly losing the stigma of being scandalous and is becoming more widely accepted, resulting in the moving on process being a little less painful.