been remarkable changes in the law as well as in peoples' attitudes
When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive
and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that
excited, abnormal and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.
-George Bernard Shaw, 1963
We are freer than we have been for centuries to dissolve an
unhappy marriage. There are other factors associated with the
increasing divorce rate. Many of these social-economic factors would
be considered good, e.g. more equal education and job opportunities
for women, higher incomes, fewer children, fewer religious restrictions,
and general social acceptance of divorce and of women living alone.
Yet, as we will see, there are terrible consequences frequently
associated with divorce (and with continuing a bad marriage). Over
75% of Americans accept divorce as a solution when a couple can't get
along, even if they have children. But there is concern by some that
divorce may have become too easy (few people who have personally
gone through a divorce consider it easy).
Reasons for divorce; divorce rate
What are the reasons given for divorce by the spouses? In order of
importance, women say (1) incompatibility and unhappiness, (2)
husband's alcohol, physical and verbal abuse, (3) husband's infidelity,
(4) disagreements about religion and children, (5) their own alcohol
abuse, (6) their own infidelity, and (7) their needs for independence.
Men say (1) drug abuse (wife's or his) and mental illness, (2) many
differences (religion, communication, in-laws), (3) his alcohol and
physical abuse, (4) wife's independence and infidelity, (5)
incompatibility and unhappiness, (6) wife's alcohol abuse, and (7) his
infidelity (Cleek and Pearson, 1985). In general, "emotional problems"
are the most common cause of divorce; men cite "sexual problems"
three times more often than women and women cite an "affair" twice
as often as men (Janus & Janus, 1993). Quite often, people say they
do not really know why their spouse filed for divorce.
Helen Fisher, an anthropologist, has found that divorce worldwide
occurs most common in the fourth year of marriage or between ages
25 and 29. She speculates that 4 years have been needed in human
history to attract a mate, establish a home, produce a child, and raise
it until it was weaned. Humans may have survived a few million years