Almost every animal in existence has a longing to mingle with members of its kind, and man is no exception. To find a solution man unaware created the institutions of the partnership; although primitive at first it developed to marriage a practice that almost everyone wishes to engage. The importance of marriages has well been advocated and documented by religious, cultural and even at times political organizations. It is therefore quite evident that marriages and families play a crucial role in our lives and the lives of those around us. With that said it remains a mystery as to why there is a rapid increase in the rate of divorces in the developed world and the trend is catching up in even less developed ones. Hence, this paper aims at understanding the effects, reasons, and depths of evils that divorce causes in the family setup and society in general. Various approaches will be utilized throughout the paper including allegories, psychology theories, and statistics.
DESCRIPTION OF A SOCIAL PROBLEM
Divorce is the formal or legal dissolution of marriage. As pointed out earlier the divorce issue is a big one and serves as a detriment to the lives of most individuals. Divorces have been attributed to adverse effects on children, partners involved and the society in general. Among children, it is believed that kids from broken families have a higher tendency to become drug addicts, antisocial, engage in criminal activities and drop out of school. For the partners involved it may become a cause of financial instability, enmity, and a lonely life. The list of problems associated with divorce is very long. Thus, the purpose of choosing this topic was to talk about the topic giving a true insight of what really goes on in the case of a love story gone sour.
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Divorce is worldwide that affects almost everyone either directly or indirectly. Thereby new research and documentation are constantly being recording from therapy sessions, surveys, and even religious organizations. Many authors have covered the topic each with their own style and opinion. Hence, the work of such writers greatly influences how the people view divorce as a subject in the society.
Coontz (2007) examine the modern day form of divorce in the society. Unlike other writers, they view the issue as a social problem that is universal among all humans. She speaks of marriage and how it shapes the happiness and lives of people. Thus, the end of such a relationship brings trauma to the individuals involved. Throughout the article Coontz attempts to put forward that the phenomenon is not new, but rather it has plagued mankind for centuries.
Amato and Previti (2003) evaluate the various reasons for divorce and its effects on children and people concerned (602). They base their work on six key areas that are affected: religious practice, family, government, education, the marketplace and health and wellbeing. The read is culminating as it provides the reader with information carried out by actual people among different places. The effects of divorce are well exhibited without bias in their article.
Amato and Anthony (2014) compare and contrast the diversity of families in modern day America and other parts of the world. The book emphasizes the importance of accepting diversity so as to enable members of the society to adapt to change. The authors simplify the various prejudices that humans possess regarding families. The book parades how contemporary relationships have changed marriages and the family as a whole.
Data and Statistics
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that there are 2,118,000 marriages in the United States alone as per 2011 (Amato and Previti 2013: 34). Nonetheless, it also approximates that 3.6 out of every 1000 people end up divorced. This is very high considering that only 6.8 out of every 1000 people get married to begin with. With that information, it can be safely deduced that roughly half of all marriages in the United States end up divorced.
A 2008 finding by the United States Census Bureau gives much deeper information suggesting that about 50% of men and 46% of women have married more than once (2008). Also, the findings show a decreasing trend of individuals who have only married once since the year 1996. Furthermore, the report claims that only 64% of people with a bachelor’s degree have married once, higher than the average adult. Lastly, the research shows that Non-Hispanic white individuals are three times more likely to have married more than twice while Asians are the least likely to marry more than once.
Societal Influence and Pressure on Marriages
With all the information it is obvious that divorces are extremely high in America. So what is causing all these divorces in the country? One needs to understand that people will separate for unique reasons. However, these reasons can be generalized and categorized so as to simplify studies. To begin with a major cause of break ups is the pressure and stress that the society puts on partners (Maxine, Stanley and Barbara 2011: 12). Societal influence comes in all sorts of forms be it religious institutions, members of the partners’ respective families and also cultural practices.
Many at times individuals are forced to marry mates they are not interested in. In some cultures, spouses are determined well before birth so as to build on acquaintances and tie families. This is especially the case among affluent people in the society. Failure to comply with such a marriage may end up in a person being disowned and even not get the inheritance. Such partners are usually not compatible, and thus, disputes build up really quickly. When the tension finally boils divorce follows suit ending in bitter relations between the two parties and even the families in question. Nowadays many women marry men only for the sole purpose of financial stability. Hence, it has become a trend whereby women marry rich men and end up divorcing at even the slightest of offenses due to laws that favor women during the partition of the couple’s wealth.
Moreover, religion may cause a person to do absolutely anything in the pursuit of eternal life. In modern times, people are preaching equality and thereby marrying from different religions. As such people with contrasting views, opinions and most importantly beliefs. Thus, such a marriage is extremely delicate firstly due to the ever critical parents who do not agree with such unions (Maxine, Stanley and Barbara 2011: 60). In most cases such intermarriages require in of the partners to give up part of their beliefs. If both the partners fail to come to a conclusion, then the marriage is doomed. Also, there is the question of what religion their offspring shall affiliate themselves. This is often a highly debated issue that if handled haphazardly then divorce will most likely be the next move.
Influence of modern life
One should comprehend that divorce is not a recent phenomenon but rather ancient as marriage itself. However, the reasons for both marriage and divorce have considerably over the years. For example in ancient Rome people married mostly to gain advantages for themselves and their family; such included gaining of allies. Amato and Previti (2003) state that in medieval Europe men mostly married so as to sire heirs who were to inherit and continue their family’s legacy (610). Thus in ancient Rome divorces were highly abrupt to grasp new opportunities in terms of gaining favors from in-laws (Coontz, 2007: 13). While in medieval Europe divorces often happened if a woman failed to conceive especially among nobles. Since such instances were not that common so were the divorces.
The case is far different for our times. People nowadays often marry because of romantic love or deep feelings for a particular individual. Although a few exceptions of tying families still exist up to date love remains the dominant reason for tying the knot. Hence, the reason for most divorces would arguably be because of the dying of this love or the end of emotional feelings for one partner to the other. For most marriages once love ends the problems soon follow thereafter (Coontz, 2007: 11). In such cases, either one of the partners cheats or seeks affection elsewhere. Once cases of infidelity come to light, there is a concrete reason to end the union officially.
In addition, modern life has brought about a change of roles in marriages and families. According to Coontz in most cultures, the woman’s place was in the household whether it was cooking, taking care of children or even attending to livestock (2007: 12). As such women were confined and not allowed much room for freedom thus hindering vices such as infidelity. On the flip side, men could go to the depths of the earth and given opportunities such as engaging in politics and leadership. In such a setting the woman was often designed to be submissive as such divorces were hard to come by as no opposition would come from the woman.
In contrast, today, roles have changed substantially. Men and women are given equal education and work opportunities, especially in the United States. Therefore, in a marriage where both husband and wife can sustain their expenses separately. For women, they are not as dependent on their husbands as before (Maxine, Stanley and Barbara 2011: 56). Hence, they feel it is easy to walk out if things do not go well. In brief, it has become psychologically easier to divorce and move on with life as if nothing happened. Also, there is the issue of longer working hours which has reduced the time for bonding and affection among partners thus creating feeble relationships. Depending on the type of work it is becoming more difficult for both a working husband and wife to spend quality time together. This goes a long way in depleting the affection that brought them together which makes separation easier.
The Myth of the Perfect Family
There is a certain misconception that the society believes that all families should be normal. Through numerous television adverts, we see that normal families are those perceived to have a working husband, a full-time housewife wife, and children. If there are any deviation judgments and criticism ensues on the “abnormal” family. In a real sense, only a tenth of American families can boast such a feat. The Amato and Previti (2003) claim, “ Diversity is the key to families in today’s society” (612). The world we live in today contains same-sex, single-parent, multiracial, child-free, step and foster families. Since man is a stranger to perfection, such families should be accepted and integrated into the society.
Regarding divorce, this myth depicted by the normal family stress individuals to try and fit into these criteria. This becomes a breaking factor in most marriages. It is no news whereby on the failure of conceiving a child a woman will be shunned through all means. While the man is coaxed into finding another wife, this ends up ruining a marriage because of universal imperfections. The woman is the most affected by a prejudiced society that chides single parenthood and biological infertility.
Most people believe that families were better in the past and that as time passes families continue to deteriorate. However, this is far from the case as even then child abuse, divorces, illegitimate children and infidelity still existed (Amato and Previti, 2003: 602). Thus in the conquest of achieving the “normal” family status people disregard their unique imperfections that are what in the first place links people. Thereby the perfect family is purely shenanigan, and such mentality needs to be wiped if people are to adapt to social change that is imminent.
Impacts on the Child, Partners, and Society
As pointed out earlier divorce has negative effects on a lot of areas in the lives of individuals. Divorces have been credited with affecting religion, education, finances and also health and wellbeing in general (Amato and Anthony, 2014: 371). It is often declared that the most affected when such splits occur are the kids involved. Children are often distressed in a variety of ways all of which are negative. To begin with Children often experience trauma and stress just by hearing of imminent separation between their parents. This goes a long way in affecting the mental state of any normal child. Such children may end up developing poor social skills, low self-esteem and pessimism in general.
Moreover, Amato and Anthony suggest that divorce weakens children’s learning capability and educational achievement (2014: 376). This is probably due to constant nostalgia about life before the separation. The problems associated with children haunt them later in life; increased likelihood as an adult, weakness to participate in relationships and immoral sexual nature. However, it cannot be assumed that every child will be affected the same way: if they are affected in the first place to begin with. Nonetheless, it is possible to predict how the children will be affected as a group.
On to the effects on the partners involved. One of the most detrimental impacts is the financial problems that are associated with such a breakup. In most cases one partner earns very high in comparison with the other thus if the two are separated one would have to deal with expenses solitarily. Financial instability on its win has adverse effects such as lower standards of living. In a different school of thought, divorces may lead to increased alcohol and substance abuse aimed at depriving the pain and emptiness that former spouses feel. Also, divorces greatly affect parent-children relationships; the children often shut their parents out of their lives entirely (Amato and Anthony, 2014: 374).
In terms of society, dissolution undermines practices and teachings of almost every religion in existence. Divorcees substantially reduce the regularity of attending religious functions and performing practices as compared to married couples. Children from broken families may most likely engage in drug abuse and criminal activities. Criminal activities of such children later in life is often attributed to decreased parental supervision from divorced parents drug abuse and increased criminal activities paint a negative image to any society, tribe, culture, clan and family.
The government also falls prey to the consequences of high rates of divorces. As stated previously the government is the institution that will have to deal with increasing crime rates. Amato and Anthony (2014) argue that the children of divorcees are notably more likely than children coming from compact married families to be aberrant before they turn 15, despite when the divorce occurred (372). For the government, this must be dealt with through funding in terms of creating rehabilitation centers and equipping law enforcers.
In summation, the issue of divorce remains a really relevant one that needs proper addressing on both community and individual level. As it has been seen annulment has not started recently, but it is an age old phenomenon. By grasping properly, the causes of divorce one can put him/herself in a divorcee’s shoes and thus relate with the situation better. In almost every instance debate is usually a bad thing in general. Nonetheless, it should not be viewed as a vice for in some cases it becomes a necessary evil an example is from women who are in abusive relationships. Divorce is an issue that has been there and will continue being there as long as man and woman exist. However, the rate at which divorce occurs in our society is directly in our hands. Therefore, marriage is a two person commitment, and thus, only these two people should aim to sustain their relationship.
Coontz, Stephanie. 2007. “The Origins of Modern Divorce.” Family Process, 1 (2): 46: 7–16. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2006.00188.x
Amato, Paul R. and Anthony, Christopher J. 2014. “Estimating the Effects of Parental Divorce and Death with Fixed Effects Models.” Journal of Marriage and Family , 9 (7): 76: 370–386. doi: 10.1111/jomf.12100
Amato, Paul R. and Previti, Denise. 2003. “People’s Reasons for Divorcing: Gender, Social Class, the Life Course, and Adjustment.” Journal of Family Issues, 24 (5): 602-626.
Maxine, Zinn B, Stanley, Eitzen, D. and Barbara, Wells. 2011. Diversity in Families. 9th Edition. Boston: Allyn & Bacon