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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Is this true?


I ran across an article on Yahoo the other day that indicates the divorce rate in the U.S. has gone down some 18% from 2008 to 2016, and that “the trend has been driven by younger women, despite divorce rates among older women higher than in the past.”   It goes on to say that the marriage rate has fallen as well. 

Click on picture to access full article 
The Maryland professor who apparently did the study, suggests that marriage is becoming more selective and stable.  The article then quotes a psychologist who is pleased about the trend, since divorce is so painful and difficult, and speculates that the two people still likely to be getting married are those who deeply hold traditional values and those who have taken a lot more time to choose their mate.  

There are some interesting ideas underlying all of this.  For instance, one of the things that is also a trend that living together, which used to be the exception and relatively rare, is now described as “the norm.”  It also implies that, all along, those who hold strongly to the traditional values of marriage, and those who have taken time to think through their selection before getting married, have been the ones who were most likely to avoid divorce. 

Another unspoken issue is that now, as couples choose to live together rather than marry, when they split up (as they often do), their split is not counted in the divorce rate as it used to be when they got married instead.  Somehow, I think if one were to include those breakups, we would find that the rate of split is the same or even higher, since there is already a higher divorce rate among those who live together first than those who do not. (That topic will be addressed in a future blog.)

It also seems to me that the counselor who sees all of this as a good thing, (since divorce is an awful experience), has missed realizing that when a couple living together breaks up, that is ALSO a traumatic event…and perhaps even worse than divorce!  

Among those who work with teenagers, it has long been considered that the breakup of a long-term dating relationship is as traumatic for them as a divorce is for an adult.  If that is the case after merely dating, how would it not also be the case after a couple living together split?  In fact, I would suspect that it might be even worse in many ways….which I may also address in the future blog.

So while I agree that a falling divorce race is a good thing, especially if it means that people have developed such a high attitude toward marriage that they take time to think it through thoroughly before committing. But if that falling rate is attributable to the fact that the marriage rate is also declining, with people choosing to be refuse to really commit, and choosing to ignore the emotional and moral issues involved in choosing to opt out of making the choice of a marriage, I am not particularly impressed.  In other words, I think there is much more going on than meets the eye, and the pain and brokenness that comes with the dissolution of deep and meaningful relationship remains significant, whether the couple dared to take the risk of committing in marriage or to stop short of that.  Broken relationships hurt, and I suspect there are still a lot more of them than this study is suggesting.

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