More than ninety percent of people living in Western cultures get married before they are fifty years old and forty to fifty percent end up divorcing. The divorce rate for second and third marriages is even higher (Marriage and Divorce). This is a very high rate of divorce and raises several questions: Why is the divorce rate so high in the United States? Is the divorce rate higher here than in other parts of the world? What are some solutions to reduce the high rate of divorce? This paper will examine the reasons why divorce is so common in the United States and propose some solutions.
Statistics show that most divorces happen within ten years of marriage with a high rate among people in the their late twenties and thirties (Edemariam). The reasons for these divorces mostly have to do with high expectations: couples expect their marriage to last forever or they have dreams of a house and children and then things go wrong. These are couples that may have know each other since college and didn’t date much, meaning they haven’t meant many different people. Most of these couples dated for a long time before getting married and never thought things wouldn’t work out. Countries that still have arranged marriages, such as India, as well as countries where the penalty for even thinking of a divorce could be death, Iraq and Iran, obviously have the lowest divorce rates.
For these younger couples, they may also think that they won’t meet anyone better suited than the person they’re dating so they may as well get married. They also may think of marriage as something fun to do and something grownups do, without really thinking about the kind of commitment needed to make a long-term relationship work. One woman who married young said that there was so much excitement and build up before the wedding and even going into it, she knew there was a fifty-fifty change it wouldn’t work (Edemariam, par. 14).
What are some of the reasons people get divorced? The first reason is that they should not have gotten married to begin with. An article in Redbook Magazine lists some of the habits that cause couples to split, including not understanding your partner’s feelings, picking fights, poor communication and waiting for problems to get too big to solve (Hickok). A research study done at Pennsylvania State University, showed the deeper reasons for divorce. Physical and verbal abuse, excessive drinking, infidelity, financial problems, neglect of home or children, and lack of economic support are the top reasons for divorce from women (Amato and Previti). Among men, the top reasons are a wife’s commitment to work, not getting along with in-laws, sexual problems and feminism (Amato and Previti). Differences in income can also play a role, such as when a husband has a problem that his wife makes more than he does.
How easy is it to obtain a divorce in the United States? If you Google “How easy it is to get a divorce in the US” there are millions of search results. There is no shortage of lawyers offering their services for a divorce. You can hire a mediator, which means you avoid the high costs of lawyers and courts, but sometimes the divorce is complicated and involves children and child support and the courts have to be involved. You can even file your own paperwork to get a divorce without having to hire a lawyer. It is also more acceptable these days to get a divorce and society doesn’t judge people they way it used to years ago.
What are some solutions to reduce the rate of divorce? Living together before marriage is much more acceptable than it was years ago, at least in American culture. While some religions and some people don’t agree with this lifestyle, it is a good way to get to know a partner and see what it would be like to be married. Dating someone and not seeing them on a daily basis is much different than living with them all of the time. Living together is also a way to see what it’s like to share responsibilities, such as finances, housework, shopping, food preparation and laundry. Living together may show a couple that they can get along without any problems or it may show them problems they didn’t even think about, causing them to think twice about getting married. If problems do come up while living together, this is a good time for couples to think about whether they should work it out or not get married.
There are steps couples can take when they are having difficulties in their marriage. These can be seen as solutions to the issue of a high divorce rate. Couples need to be sure they are communicating with each other. They should spend some time each day talking about personal topics so too much time doesn’t go by and the problems get worse. This takes time away from everyone’s busy schedule and both people have to be willing to do this (Marriage and Divorce).
Going to counseling is another possible solution to divorce. Finding a therapist that specializes in couples, and going separately and then going together, may help resolve some issues. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but both people have to be committed to making the relationship work. If children are involved, it may be smart to see a family therapist too.
Since a divorce lawyer is never going to suggest counseling because he would lose money, divorce mediators are more likely to do so.
It is also advised that couples compliment each other on how they look and their accomplishments. Not doing so is sometimes a cause for infidelity. Taking care of your appearance will also mean that you’re showing your partner’s opinion is important. Doing things together is also important as is finding your own interests so you don’t rely on your partner to be happy and feel fulfilled. John Gottman, a professor of psychology, said his research could predict whether a couples stays together based on whether they feel like they are friends with each other. He says friendship is key to a successful marriage (10 Tips). A divorce attorney suggests couples make up a yearly contract that they review and sign to agree on terms of their marriage. She says most disputes are over money and sex and spelling out terms of agreement can help prevent a split (10 Tips).
In conclusion, it is easier for people to say they want to get divorced because it’s easy to get one and it isn’t seen as something negative as much as it used to. So many celebrity divorces also send a message that it’s common and no one thinks twice about it. There are solutions to avoiding divorce but couples have to be willing to put the work into them and follow through. It takes work and commitment to stay married. Whether or not some of these solutions lower the divorce rate is something that research could show. Americans could also look to other countries where marriage is a life long commitment and taken very seriously.
- “10 Tips for preventing divorce.” Today. 13 Jan. 2003. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
- Amato, Paul and Previti, Denise. “People’s Reasons for Divorcing: Gender, Social Class, the Life Course, and Adjustment.” Journal of Family Issues. Vol. 24. 5 July 2003. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
- Edemariam, Aida. “Divorced by 30: why do so many young marriages come to an early end?” The Guardian. 19 Dec. 2014. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
- Hickok, Hannah. “8 Habits Couples Therapists Say Always End A Marriage.” Redbook Magazine. 25 Mar. 2016. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
- “Marriage and Divorce.” American Psychological Association. 2016. Web. 4 Oct. 2016