Divorce

Nothing lasts forever: love dies, a spouse dies, and many marriages end in divorce. Marital discord occurs for a number of reasons, 11 of which are listed in Figure 6-5. Not all of these reasons necessarily lead to divorce, but they are now more likely to do so than in previous times. In the last century, marriages ended in death as often as in divorce, but divorce has become the principal cause of marital breakups in this century. Legal grounds for divorce in previous times—adultery, alcoholism, brutality, desertion, and nonsupport— are still acceptable reasons, but incompatibility is a more common reason, and "no-fault" divorces are also becoming fashionable. Unlike former times, when the marital roles of husband and wife were relatively fixed and men and

ReasonforDivorce Communication problems Basic unhappiness Incompatibility Emotional abuse Financial problems Sexual problems Alcohol abuse-husband Infidelity by spouse In -laws Physical abuse Women's liberation

Percentage Giving Reason Figure 6-5 Reasons given for divorcing. (Based on data from Cleek & Pearson, 1985.)

Percentage Giving Reason Figure 6-5 Reasons given for divorcing. (Based on data from Cleek & Pearson, 1985.)

15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-54 55-64 65-74 75-84 85+

Age interval (Years)

Figure 6-6 Percentage of divorced men and women as a function of chronological age in 1995. (Based on data from Saluter, 1996.)

15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-54 55-64 65-74 75-84 85+

Age interval (Years)

Figure 6-6 Percentage of divorced men and women as a function of chronological age in 1995. (Based on data from Saluter, 1996.)

women were not expected to understand the opposite sex but simply to fulfill their vows and duties, today's couples are less apt to endure marriages in which disagreements and conflicts are frequent.

As shown in Figure 6-6, divorce rates for both men and women are at a peak in the early forties. The average number of years of marriage before divorcing has been declining and is now slightly over 6 years. Approximately 40% of first marriages in the United States end in divorce, a figure that is among the highest in the world. The divorce rate is higher for blacks than for whites, and higher for whites than for Hispanics. Among Hispanics, Puerto Ricans have higher divorce rates than Mexican Americans and Cuban Americans (Bean & Tienda, 1987). The divorce rate is also higher for people who either failed to graduate from high school or had some college than for those who terminated their formal education with high school graduation (12 years) or college graduation (16 years) (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1992).

As might be expected, divorce is now more common among young women who married when they were teenagers and were pregnant or had a child prior to marriage. Higher frequencies of divorce are also found in lower income groups and among those who attend religious services infrequently (Glenn & Supancic, 1984; U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1992).

The increased financial and social independence of women, the availability of welfare, and changes in public attitudes and mores have contributed to the increase in the divorce rate and the increased acceptability, if not respectability, of divorce as a means of solving marital problems and achieving personal fulfillment. Divorced people usually find that the change in their marital status has not solved all their problems; for example, they are often even more depressed than when they were married (Menaghan & Lieberman. 1986).

Although it is usually the wife who files for divorce, in the short run the husband usually suffers more from it (Bloom & Caldwell, 1981; Kelly, 1982). Not only does a divorced man experience feelings of rejection and failure, but fathers who do not have custody of their children tend to see them less often, are less involved in decisions regarding their lives, and frequently end up as bitter enemies of their ex-wives (Ahrons & Rodgers, 1987; Furstenberg & Nord, 1985; Seltzer, 1991). In the long run, however, the reduced financial status of the wife and, in most cases, the fact that she is awarded custody of any children from the marriage, create a greater hardship on her. Not only must she continue to perform the roles of homemaker and parent, but she is also responsible for taking care of all the practical and financial matters that were previously the husband's responsibilities. Furthermore, it is usually more difficult for a divorced woman than for a divorced man to find a new heterosexual partner. This is particularly true when the woman is no longer young and has children to take care of.

The effects of divorce on a child depend on the age, sex, and personality of the child and his or her relationships with the parents. Young children tend to be more emotionally vulnerable, to experience greater stress, and to suffer feelings of guilt, blame, and abandonment, whereas adolescents are more likely to react with confusion and anger (Cooney & Uhlenberg, 1990). In general, teenagers cope better than younger children, especially when they have a close relationship with the custodial parent. There is also some evidence that divorced parents express less affection for their children and that this may be accompanied by sexual promiscuity in girls and gender-role reversal in boys (Hetherington, Cox, & Cox, 1977; Kelly &Wallerstein, 1976).

Alcohol No More

Alcohol No More

Do you love a drink from time to time? A lot of us do, often when socializing with acquaintances and loved ones. Drinking may be beneficial or harmful, depending upon your age and health status, and, naturally, how much you drink.

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