Rynn: The idea that the kids are going to be happier if the parents are happier
is a myth. It is a dearly held myth. Many parents love it because it allows
them to put a "we did it for the children" spin on their selfish
decisions. But it is still a myth. Read "The Unexpected Legacy
of Divorce" by Judith Wallerstein. In a landmark study, she follows the
children of divorce over a 25-year period and catalogs their life experiences
post-divorce. It makes it clear that the myth is just that... a myth. You see, the abuse and ugliness continues for the kids. It does not end
with divorce. Their biological parents are still their parents. The marriage
relationship may end, but the relationship endures because of the children.
Call it the nuclear half-life of marriage. The reactor may be dead, but the
radiation lives on. They (the children) are still in the middle of an abusive
relationship complicated by distance, new spouses and often, additional children
of other former marriages. Want to observe happiness? Send them to
the homes of their friends whose parents have endured.
Staying together for the sake of the children is not always a good thing. As
someone else has said, every divorce situation is unique. But what
if it's abuse? Whether it be physical abuse or mental abuse.We know
of a marriage in which the wife was an extreme narcissist. She was always
telling her husband how stupid he was, how ugly he was. There were isolated
incidents where she did hit him. When they went to marriage counseling, she
wasn't willing to compromise. She insisted on things being her way.
Obviously the marriage did not work out and they are now divorced.Both
parents have since moved on and remarried.The kids now see their parents
in more happy situations and therefore the kids have more happy households to
live in. And they see examples of happy marriages.The alternative was for
the kids to grow up in a house where their parents were always fighting. To
learn by example that being a wife meant treating your husband poorly. Or being
a husband means letting your wife treat you poorly.
Shouldn't greater emphasis be on premarital training and improving and
strengthening marriage relationships in every phases of marriage as opposed to
merely making divorce more difficult?Isn't making divorce more
difficult a little like putting a fence at the bottom of a cliff? Put it this way: You've been driving like a maniac, you hit some gravel
and miss a turn, and suddenly you are end-over-end and over a cliff; the kids
are not in seat belts and some dewy-eyed road-planner who HATES the inevitable
carnage at the bottom of the cliff (It happens over and over again!) writes a
grant and gets Federal funding to put up a HUGE razor-wire fence at the bottom,
preceded by massive sharp-stakes designed to impale anyone silly enough to go
over the edge because he is sure (and statistics prove him right) that far fewer
people will go off the road if it is there.I'm not for divorce,
but doesn't this solution sound silly?
Anyone who thinks divorce is easy has clearly never been through one.
Lower divorce rates correlate with higher educational levels.. Just
another reason to improve education and graduation rates.My guess if
the divorce process becomes too onerous people will just choose to co-habitate
instead of getting married.
Many wish the government would get out of the marriage business but this is not
realistic and actually the absolute worst solution. An unintended consequence
of this line of thinking is that the government would have to actually get More
involved in the lives of parents and the raising their children. I realize some
people wish the government would be more involved in our lives. I, personally,
don't. Please do not fall for this line of thinking. It appeals to
libertarians, but they usually have not thought out all the consequences.
Read the work of the well known social scientist Sanford Braver if you want some
insight into the reasons people cite for divorce. Things like "we just grew
apart" and "we don't love each other anymore". Infidelity and
substance abuse are well down the list. And, believe it or not, the majority of
divorces are initiated by wives, not husbands. The current legal system
encourages that by providing child support and assets primarily to divorcing
women. So, if you are tired of your spouse, can expect to retain the house you
live in and collect money for the children, why not cast him off? My
great-grandmother had no such prospects if she were to leave her farmer husband.
She would have starved and he would have kept the farm and children. Think
about how life has changed in the past hundred years. Is it really better?
Yes - divorce has consequences for children. But so does being raised by
parents who do not want to be married to each other.Forcing couples
to stay married is not going to automatically make things better for the
Let's look at it this way. Let's suppose that my neighbors want a
divorce. Is it any of my business? Do I have the right to say to them, "Um,
no you have to jump through all these hoops to get a divorce." If I walked
up to a neighbor and told them that, they'd rightly throw me off their
property. If I don't have that right, then the state, acting as my agent,
doesn't have that right either. The state has no business in the marriage
business - either when people decide to get married or if/when they decide to
divorce. The state has no right to make it difficult for someone to get married
(some sort of waiting period) or difficult to get divorced. Now, if
a couple voluntarily associate themselves with a church and want to abide by the
covenants of that organization, and the church makes it difficult to get
divorced (in the church), then that's their choice. If they want to remain
with the church, they can go through the church's hoops.
I am currently in the middle of a divorce after 20 years of marriage. While I
appreciate the sanctity and importance of marriage I am trying to leave a
situation that is both controlling and emotionally abusive. That type of abuse
leaves no marks except for deep emotional scars. Leaving a situation like this
is extremely difficult. I know in your article you mentioned an out for people
in abusive situations but I can not imagine what might provide adequate support
and protection for people in the same boat as myself. The fact that I can ask
for a no fault divorce helps me in ways that are practical and protect my
safety. From my perspective, nothing is more frightening than the idea that, if
laws were tightened, I might have to convince a judge about the reality of my
situation with the opportunity for my spouse to rebutt my experience. This is a
matter that should be addressed at the beginning of marriage. Adults should be
givien the freedom to use their best judgement. I do support your efforts to
defend the family, but please give this a second look.
Rethinking marriage law: recognizing personal, social costs associated with easy
marriage.Start at the beginning, not the end.
When wandering eyes and wandering hearts break the hearts and lives of a spouse
and of children, should we just pretend that divorce will always be part of
life?In my grandparents day, divorce was not acceptable. Divorce
meant failure and people worked hard to not be a failure. Not every marriage
was perfect but people knew that a handshake was a bond and a wedding vow was to
be kept no matter what else failed.Now jump forward to the 60's
and 70's when many of us were growing up. Some thought that the
"pill" meant that they didn't need to wait for marriage before
having sex. They developed wandering eyes and wandering hearts - and never grew
up. Now jump forward twenty or thirty years later when the children
of those who wandered outside of marriage are marrying. What can a wandering
mother or father tell a son or daughter about chastity? About keeping vows?
About being morally clean? The children and the grandchildren and
the great-grandchildren will pay the piper and society will suffer.
Most religions allow divorce, though they don't officially approve. Jump
through some hoop and everyone pretends the marriage never happened. If
religions have loopholes, why should goverment carry the moral banner?
Given the serious consequences of divorce, reasonable legislation regarding
marriage and divorce should be put in place. Just a waiting period between
application for a wedding license and receiving the license, can help people to
not act impulsively. Before a divorce is granted, financial terms should be
legally worked out so children aren't put in poverty. When I was young,
divorce held a social stigma. It is no longer a stigma. So in addition to legal
restrictions, perhaps some kind of social disapproval would help curb the tide.
Its up to the couple to make a marriage work, not the State of Utah. Don't expect a dysfunctional government to fix a dysfunctional marriage.
You can use government to force a husband and wife to stay legally married, but
you cannot force two people to love each other if they don't. Nearly
everyone will agree that marriage and divorce should not be taken casually. But
every divorce and situation is unique, and not all no-fault no-responsibility
divorces are due to impulsive or short-sighted "transitory concerns" as
you put them. And I would argue that an unhappy, dysfunctional marriage that
should have ended years ago can be damaging to children as well. So be careful
how you do this, or you conservatives just might fulfill Reagan's classic:
"I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
Divorce is the back end of a problematic relationship, and making it harder to
end the contractual relationship and move on doesn't solve the underlying
issues. Maybe more emphasis should be put on avoiding younger marriages,
discouraging short courtships, premarital counseling, marriage counseling, and
similar activities to head off the problems before and as they arise. Waiting
until divorce is on the table is too late, and forcing a marriage to stay intact
at that point is in no one's interest.
I couldn't agree more. The victims of divorce are the children and many
people who divorce say, in effect, "My temporary happiness or convenience is
more important than the long term happiness of my own children. I prefer to mess
up my children in order to get out of a situation that I voluntarily got myself
and my children into." It is so selfish. On the other hand, I have see
married people in a difficult situation, grow up, make changes and provide their
kids with a healthy environment. I'll be forever grateful that my parents
stuck it out even when things were tough. They set a great example for me.