Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

What factors do YOU think have contributed to the increasing divorce rates since the 70's?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42477points) July 19th, 2016

Here is a nice article, along with a chart, that gives some speculation.

But what is your opinion?

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56 Answers

syz's avatar

The slow realization by women that they are people, too. That they deserve happiness and fulfillment, and that those things don’t happen just because they’re married. That they can be self sufficient, independent, and strong on their own.

Dutchess_III's avatar

So, it’s because they were finally given opportunities to take care of themselves without being tethered to a “breadwinner”? I agree.
Do you think this is any kind of wake-up call for men? (I wish I’d included that in my question..but then that would have been leading, I guess.)

Walgt's avatar


In the United States, divorce rates have been increasing for the poor and low-educated while they have been decreasing for the wealthy and high-educated since the 1990s. These divergent trends in divorce rates by education and social class are referred to as the divorce divide. Explanations for the divorce divide have been linked to educational homogamy, an increase in age at first marriage, and changes to the institution of marriage, including the decoupling of childbearing from marriage. The perpetuation of socioeconomic inequality, class differences in family formation, boundary maintenance between social groups, and the intergenerational transmission of social and genetic traits are some of the implications of the divorce divide.Link

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why wouldn’t those same factors have been in play in any decade?

stanleybmanly's avatar

Primarily the loss of social stigma.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think that came after. Once women were afforded the opportunity to support themselves, they left and didn’t give shit about social stigma. So it gradually disappeared as the masses of divorcees grew.
Kind of like the social stigma that used to hang on unwed mothers. That’s gone. There are just too many of them now.

Zaku's avatar

Normalization, experience, and reduced social pressure & stigmas about divorce. Also changing attitudes by society and counselors & psychologists etc about divorce. It’s now fairly accepted that pair-bonding forever isn’t always the best thing and that people change and separation may be best for everyone and so on. Also yeah the “women need a man to support them” thing is much less standard and less truthy.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, I agree with @Zaku
Also, certain time lines in marriages are more highly charged with the odds of divorce.
The first 2–3 years which is still an adjustment period, followed by mid-life when often, the kids have left the nest and those that stayed together for the kids sake are now free to split. (That was my personal scenario. ) Most divorces are a long time in coming and yes, now that women are not as dependent on men to take care of them, it is often the woman that initiates the split in many instances.

YARNLADY's avatar

I speculate it has a lot to do with the fact that so many mothers are now in the work force, so the children don’t have any example of two parents in the home. In my own experience, I worked all the time my older son was growing up, and he has been married and divorced several times.

I was able to stay at home with my second son and he has stayed married for 10 years so far.

Wait, personal experience: my parents were married the whole time we were growing up, but it took three times before I got it right, and my sister never did, after at least four tries.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Can you clarify ” it has a lot to do with the fact that so many mothers are now in the work force, so the children don’t have any example of two parents in the home.” Do you mean the mothers are still married to the fathers, but work outside the home? Or are you talking about single mothers?
If you’re referring to a married couple and the woman works, the kids still have an example of two parents in the home.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, The former. When both parents work, the child is without them all day long. If either the mother or the father is home/nonworking, the child is more likely to have a better view of marriage.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would think it’s how the parents treated the other that would be the determining factor of their view of marriage, not the controlled absence of both.
I mean, the mom could be home all day, but if the husband abuses her when he’s home and they’re arguing and hateful towards each other…the kids aren’t going to have a positive view of marriage.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, that could be a deciding factor. However, that factor has always been present, and divorce rate has increased, so what changed? Could it be the increase in working mothers?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Close, @YARNLADY. But it’s not because the mothers are working. It’s because, beginning in the 60’s, the work force opened up to women, so women had the option to go to work and support their families. They didn’t have to depend on a man to do it. For the first time in history they have the freedom and options to get out of bad marriages, and they started taking it.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think the parents example is influential but…I have seen opposite sides of that spectrum with people I’ve known over they years. Some of the ones with good parental example and high marital expectations ended up marrying a dysfunctional person and the opposite as well. Those with bad family lives married the right person that made up for their bad experiences. There are no guarantees with relationships however, it is very common, from a psychological POV for people to marry someone that emulates what they were familiar with in their family of origins.

Why so many get into abusive situations or marry alcoholics like dear old dad was, or shrewish, manipulative, bitch on wheels women that emulate mommy dearest. A great argument for everyone doing some personal growth work before marrying anyone and while not infallible, sure helps to know what your attractions might be based on from an inchoate place.

MrGrimm888's avatar

People change. Not all people change in ways that keep them compatible.

Plus divorce is more socially accepted now.

The wealthy aren’t divorced as much because of prenuptial agreements. Plus they are financially stable. Lots of married couples have differences in how they act financially. This is one of the top 5 reasons married couples argue.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yep. As a personal anecdote, my sister and her husband met when they were 17. They’ve been together ever since. My BIL is a history teacher at the high school, my sister is a high powered Boeing manager. She’s worked since before any of her 3 girls were born.
She has this desperate need to appear perfect to the outside world. To file for a divorce would never, never happen, if she could help it. I, personally, believe she’s probably had to put up with some shit that she shouldn’t have to to preserve that illusion.
A couple of years ago we were at a family reunion. It centered around a hotel complex, that backed up to beautiful, scenic Arkansas mountains. Most people rented rooms on either side of the big meeting room, where every one gathered.
My sis and BIL, had a room two doors down. It had a sliding glass door that looked out over the scenery. The drapes were wide open.
A bunch of us were gathered around outside the door, talking and drinking. My BIL and sis were in the room.
Suddenly, without warning, my rowdy BIL dropped trow and gave us all a full, blazing moon! I screamed. They screamed. Everybody screamed and collapsed!
My sister backed him into the bathroom, You couldn’t see him, but you could tell she was reading him the riot act!
They came out of the BR, talking. My BIL was facing us, my sis had her back to us still dressing him down.
Their youngest daughter, who was about 15 at the time said, “Wait! Wait for it! Wait for it! Wait….”
We all waited….then, my BIL opened up his arms, my sister stepped into them, put her head on his shoulders and wrapped his arms around her. Their youngest said “Yep, there it is!” She knew what was going to happen.

I think their kids have a very good view of marriage, although their parents have worked full time, all of their lives.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Uppity women.

Mariah's avatar

There is less stigma, and women are increasingly getting higher education and have skills to support themselves financially. There now alternatives to getting “stuck” in a bad marriage.

cookieman's avatar

Running with the idea that it is partially due to more women being educated, having options, and being able to financially support themselves…shouldn’t that soon-enough lead to more women simply skipping marriage altogether?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, why? Men have always, historically, had financial options that allow them to support themselves, but they usually get married. Why do they get married?

MrGrimm888's avatar

It may suprise some girl power ladies in this thread @Dutchess III, but some men love the woman they meet. They want her to have nice things, not have to work, and be happy. They aren’t ‘suppressing’ them all the time. Some of course have , but most men don’t mind supporting their girl. The fact that women make more money now,to me, just means they should contribute more.

I understand the issues raised by women here, but in America it’s not so bad to be a female. Women have the advantage in many ways in America. Most women don’t even have to do hard manual labor, like in most other countries. Compared to most of the world’s treatment of women, we deserve some credit. And our example inspire other women in the world to rally for their rights. Which they deserve.

Strauss's avatar

@Dutchess_III beginning in the 60’s, the work force opened up to women, so women had the option to go to work and support their families.

I think it’s interesting that over the past 50 years, that “option” has become more a necessity; the decline of real wages has made a two-income household a necessity rather than option in should be.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Bucket seats. I remember a day when my baby slid down the bench seat closer to me. Driving was more like movie night snuggled up on the sofa. Many a pullovers were caused by the romantic arousal that ensued because of that. I can directly trace the inception of my children to the front bench of my old Chrysler New Yorker.

But automotive designers are a lonely lot. They devised a way to split up the family by putting the stick shift and console between us. No longer is my right arm free for fondling and hugging. Now she must watch me shift my own knob. About as exciting as watching a man rub one out.

She’d rather stare out the window… away from me. “Oh look honey… A discount mall”!

Mariah's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Women in this thread aren’t saying that good men who want to financially support their wives are a bad thing, they’re saying that it’s a good thing women can financially support themselves now so they don’t get stuck in a financially dependent situation with bad men who beat them up.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Sounds too much like a Lifetime movie.

Mariah's avatar

What does? A woman being stuck in a bad marriage? It happens.

MrGrimm888's avatar

‘Stuck’ is an excuse.

Mariah's avatar

If a woman has no education and no skills she could absolutely be “stuck” – she might not be able to support herself if she left her husband. That’s what everyone’s saying, why it’s such a good thing that women have opportunities now.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

There are multiple reasons but the big take away is that both partners have to commit to making things work. Never before has it been as financially risky for men to marry and as easy for women to support themselves. Married couples who stay together…well they likely actually love each other. There is little reason for people to marry outside of that and it’s a good thing.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Same excuse. I love women. They are the most important thing in the world. But they need to get out of a bad relationship, if they’re in one.
Also relevant.Many women are shitty mothers and wives too…. That may effect the higher divorce rate.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wow. Let me rephrased the question that was brought up by @cookieman, which you apparently misundersood @MrGrimm888.
@cookieman man said, “If a woman can support herself and the family by herself, why would she even bother getting married?”
I responded with “Why do men, who can support themselves and the family by themselves get married?”
Do you see the question in a different light now?

Of course they need to get out if they’re in a bad relationship. But it’s only been recently that they’ve been able to get out.

As to your last comment “Many women are shitty mothers and wives too…” I wold suggest that the number of men initiating a divorce has remained consistent, while the number of women initiating the divorce has risen. That’s why there is a higher divorce rate now.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I feel that the majority of flutherites in this thread have vilified men too much, while making women out to be a victim of circumstance, with no accountability for their actions.

Once they could make money more dependably, they had more freedom. Agreed.
So what’s the excuse for bad wives, and mothers in the past 20 years?

It is an anomalous thread, in that usually you are more rounded in your thinking @Dutchess III.
Your linear thinking of women as the victim ,never the problem is unfair and unrealistic.

All I was saying, was that people naturally change as they grow older. Some change in a way that keeps them solidified in opinion, and lifestyle, and some change in ways that make them grow apart. Most in the thread made immediate correlations with divorce rates and women’s civil rights. Ignoring any foolish thinking that the woman might have been less than perfect…

Sometimes a woman is a bad person, a bad mother, and the male is the ‘victim.’ Sometimes the bad mother’s children suffer for her actions /inactions too.

Women I knew growing up were usually strong and smart. They didn’t take any BS. And they put their kid’s lives first.

I know of many(females) now, who don’t care about their kids (at least enough to get out of a relationship where the kid is being abused.) Who just want to be with a guy they ‘love.’ Weather he beats her, rapes her kids, steals from her, or kills her pet. Some women I’ve known are just as bad as men, or worse. I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy in the answers here.
Women’s ability to work is not the reason divorce rates are higher.

It’s the same reason there are ‘more homosexuals’ now. It’s not as frowned upon. And it shouldn’t be. Divorce was a taboo in the beginning of the time line mentioned. Now it isn’t. Not because women can earn slightly more money now.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies ”...the inception of my children…”

uh… make that… conception.

Coloma's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Agreed, there are plenty of crappy wives and mothers out there, but, historically, women got stuck in bad relationships more so than most men.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@MrGrimm888 ” I feel that the majority of flutherites in this thread have vilified men too much, while making women out to be a victim of circumstance, with no accountability for their actions.”
That extends waay beyond this thread

Pandora's avatar

I agree with @syz but since the 70’s there is a growth of the me generation. You can’t have a good marriage if either person is selfish or thoughtless or foolish about what marriage requires of both partners. A good marriage takes real work and a true commitment to each other when times get hard. Not one person taking all the time and one person giving. Both have to give and take. It also isn’t just about love and sex. Respect and honesty is absolutely necessary. The ones who have the unrealistic idea that love is everything they need, are usually the ones most likely to divorce.

@ARE_you_kidding_me for myself. I believe both men and women often enter marriage with these unrealistic ideas that love will conquer all. Love can wane in a marriage, but it’s a level head with a realistic view of what a partnership is that can make a marriage work through the rough spots until you reignite the love you once felt.

Mariah's avatar

Nobody in this thread has said that women can never be bad wives???? We’re just saying that women’s changing role is probably one of the biggest factors that lead to the increase in divorce rates, as the question asked.

Lots of the men on fluther need to learn that because we celebrate women’s increasing freedom doesn’t mean we’re, like, vying for the subjugation of men or something.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Men are already subjugated. The world was built on the backs of ordinary men.Their enslavement, or servitude was responsible for almost every construction project before a hundred years ago.

I meant no disrespect @Mariah, and I get what you’re saying in regards to the question. I know typed word is ambiguous, but I feel a disdain for men in many threads in Fluther. When a question finally asks, why are divorce’s rates higher. It felt like most opined, ’ well, women aren’t imprisoned by men making money, and men keeping them from education anymore. ’ That IS the way of some countries, although religion is to blame here in the US.

In America, I have overheard older women telling young girls about how to use men, or manipulate them to their will. At a dinner party once, I heard a grandmother tell a 16 year old girl, that she was ‘sitting on a gold mine.’ She went on to teach this young woman how to ‘use’ her goldmine (vagina)to her advantage. Disturbing conversation, I’ve overheard several times by different women.

If women want to ‘get ahead’ in life, they have to admit these tactics are counter productive. And fully admit they take advantage of men, just as much as men take advantage of their natural differences.
IMO, women act one way, then expect to be treated another quite often. There again, is the direct correlation between the wealthy having less divorce rates. They have prenuptial agreements. So the woman can’t seduce the man for his money, and then divorce him for half his belongings. Michael Jordan’s wife got HALF his stuff. ‘Behind every great man, there is a great woman.’ I agree. But his wife didn’t win 6 championships. If they had a pre nup, she would still be there.

No one is saying women can’t be bad wives alright. They’re completely omitting ANY wrong doing by women.

To be divorced, you have to have been married. To get married, you enter a ‘relationship. ’ With understanding of equality and respect.

Most in this thread mention inequality, and no respect for the terrible creature that is man.

This question was regarding new divorce statistics, and yes women earn more money now, but are they less manipulative? No. Men still don’t value their wives either in some cases. (Cases where women should move on.) But I have to stick up for men here. Because otherwise it’s been women overcoming the oppression of men, as the main answer. And that just isn’t a realistic majority reason…

Mariah's avatar

We’re talking about why divorce rates have changed. Correlated with the changing divorce rates has been a large change in the roles of women and their ability to be independent. That’s why we think the changing divorce rate probably mostly has to do with women’s ability to leave unhappy marriages. There is less evidence that would support the idea that men are increasingly leaving unhappy marriages, so they didn’t get mentioned as much, because it’s not as relevant to the question. That doesn’t mean we think men are never unhappy in their marriages and that women are never bad wives. It was omitted because it’s literally just not as relevant to the question. If you need me to balance out every comment about men by also saying “btw women can be bad too” then you might be a little oversensitive.

Pandora's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Please don’t make gold digging only about America. Gold diggers have existed since power an money have existed. It’s as old as prostitution. And Americans are a huge mix of different cultures from around the world. What do you think arrange marriages are? Women are sold like cattle to the highest bidder. Many times they are sold as mere children to filthy old abusive men. Men have always had some control over their destiny. They do not have to marry. In poor nations, it is not always a choice for women. Even if their marriage is not arranged. The lack of education because they are women only give them one way to survive, marriage.
My husband and I both entered our marriage with our eyes wide open and a great sense or reality. True he was broke as broke could be, as was I. So there was nothing to gold dig. But we we are both educated and have always had a way of supporting ourselves and our children. I am no male basher but I understand all to well in this world how women are viewed by a great many cultures. We have some really obnoxious sexist even in my family. They have all learned to respect me or stay the hell out of my way. And many are married to women who are miserable in a loveless and abusive marriage, but who stay in the marriage because they were raised in a different time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

In general, men have always had more options than women for escaping a relationship. It wasn’t uncommon in the latter centuries to simply have the woman committed to an insane asylum, for virtually any reason the husband choose to give. And I seriously doubt the men then took on the task of single handedly raising the children then. They were simply farmed out to relatives.

Take a glance at this Women and the Law in Early 19th Century.

And this A woman who rebelled against Victorian domesticity risked being declared insane and committed to an asylum. This was usually at her husband’s or father’s request, and she generally had no right to contest or appeal..

This may not be anything us “Power Woman” (Dibbs on The Pink Ranger!!!) may have experienced personally, although I remember, not long ago, if a woman was raped, she was almost always, “just asking for it,” as far as the law is concerned, and it was almost never prosecuted. Child molestation was ignored. This is the legacy that’s come down to us from generations that are not that far removed, and the echos of it, some very strong echos, can still be heard today. see @Pandora‘s post, just above this one.

Men can’t do that today. They have lost that ultimate power, and rightly so. And that’s what has changed.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III I know! Terrifying how a man could have his wife committed to some insane asylum just on his word alone. Of course, the poor woman was probably abused a lot of the time and suffered depression and any little thing could be used against her. Talk about a witch hunt!

I remember reading somewhere once, as well, that many women feigned illness. the old ” sick headache” routine or other ailments, to take up residence in a separate room to avoid sexual contact and the, inevitable pregnancy. The only way a woman could avoid repeated pregnancies was to take to her sick bed.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yep. I heard once that at the beginning of the century women were fighting for the right to have access to birth control, which the Catholic church was adamantly against, and the Supreme Court’s answer was “Go sleep out on the roof.”
I don’t think it was all that well accepted, even into the 50’s.
But it took off in the 60’s, and, almost freed from the risk of pregnancies, some women decided to be as free about sex as most men were. The men were happy. And called them “sluts” behind their backs.

zenvelo's avatar

I held off on this thread from yesterday, but looking through, I see no one mentioning two huge factors:

1) No fault divorce. Prior to the 1970s, one still needed to prove and assign blame to break teh marriage contract. Remember the show “Divorce Court”? That was all about whose fault it was.

2) Not so much women working as women being legally entitled to financial independence. Before the 1970s, married women still need a husband’s signature for many financial transactions, such as getting their own credit or a separate checking account.

I was looking through employment applications where I work of some women hired in the ‘60s; They were asked if their husbands approved of them working. (They were also asked if they had plans to get pregnant!)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Good points, @zenvelo.

God. Thinking about that, and the Civil Rights movement, it’s embarrassing to know that I was alive during such a barbaric time in our country, the country that brags “Freedom for all.” It’s like it should have happened centuries ago, not modern day.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, great points @zenvelo

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Another thing to consider is the plummeting marriage rate. People are not just divorcing at higher rates they just are not getting married at all. For guys who don’t want kids marriage is actually kind of a dumb thing to do. For ladies it can go either way and for a good 20 years or so it was in their favor. Lucrative divorce settlements probably played a bit into higher divorce rates through the 80’s and 90’s but the courts are starting to catch up to the times and it’s generally fair how assets and custody is divided up these days. The reasons the contract of marriage was instituted by society are vanishing in some ways. It’s not as necessary as it once was and outside of love it was quite a trap for men and women.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Another good point.

Blackberry's avatar

Money is more important than anything. Why spend money and time on a relationship that us bound to fail somewhere in ten years when you can just be a slave to money? Love and kids don’t pay bills.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It is. That’s why it had to be really bad and really serious for me to walk away from it. Which I did. I had a plan in place to compensate…but it didn’t turn out like I planned. Still glad I did it, though.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I could go with an answer very few would accept, so I will go with the pragmatic worldly answer; people have collectively gotten more fickle an unable to make true commitments, and seeing the masses adhere to it, once it stops working the way I WANT IT dump it is more the norm than the exception.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah. Getting the shit beat out of you on regular basis just isn’t working out the WAY I WANTED. So I dumped him. Selfish selfish me.

Coloma's avatar

Very few people take getting a divorce lightly. Divorce is hell but so is staying in a dysfunctional, abusive or just not working relationship. Everyone needs to be true to themselves not a martyr to an institution. Institutions have, historically, failed.

Marriage is a voluntary arrangement not a life sentence. Things change, people change and the idea of “til death do us part” is not something that is realistic much of the time, unless you don’t marry until you are 72. haha

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