If you talk to a cynic about marriage and divorce, they may wax poetic about “the good old days” when folks stayed married for upwards of 50 years and really lived up to their “till death do you part” vows. But these days, divorces are easier to obtain and some people rush into marriage before they really know about their partner’s life before they became a couple. In some cases seems like when the going gets just a little tough, couples call it quits.
Only, divorce rates are down these days. After hitting astronomical rates in the 1980s, people are waiting longer to get married and, apparently, the divorce rate is going down.
Recently, I was perusing writer and career coach Penelope Trunk’s blog yesterday when I came across a post titled “Divorce is immature and selfish. Don’t do it.”
In the post, Trunk (a remarried divorcee) makes the case against divorce on the basis of five reasons: Divorce is a cliché; divorce is terrible for kids; divorce is for dumb people (uneducated people divorce at higher rates); divorce reflects mental illness; and divorce is often a career issue.
During her post Trunk makes some startling claims like domestic violence—something she and her husband deal with now—shouldn’t be an automatic deal breaker.
The person who says they are a victim of violence.
Two-thirds of divorces take place in low-conflict homes, and in those cases, the kids are much better off if the parent just stick it out.
So let’s look at high-conflict homes: It takes two people to fight. And there’s great research to show that if you picked an asshole the first time, you’ll pick the same type of asshole the second time. (Which is why divorce rates for second marriages are so much higher than first marriages.) So instead of getting rid of your kids’ parent, figure out why you picked a person like this, and then get good at drawing boundaries.
Really, good boundaries can save even the worse marriages. Taking care of your own contribution to the mess can single-handedly stop the mess.
This is especially true of violence. At this point in the history, where women have so much earning power, women are equally as responsible for men for the violence in a household. In fact, the US Centers for Disease Control reports that most domestic violence today is a 50/50 thing. Both parties are responsible. Which means that even if you have one of the worst marriages, you have the power to fix it.
While I don’t agree with Trunk’s advice to always work through violent relationships, I do feel like some people rush into marriages before they are ready only to end up angry and fighting it out before a judge.
Though some have blamed the rise in the divorce rate on women and our access to equal rights, I am happy that the ability to leave a toxic situation isn’t an option merely reserved for men.
Back in the “good old days” many women were beaten or mistreated by their spouses with no way to leave (or take their children). So while our current system may be imperfect, and people may be rushing into marriage without understanding the gravity of it all, having a way out is much better than being unable to walk away when you really need to.
What do you think of Trunk’s assertion? Is divorce for “dumb people”?