The 50% divorce myth

Everyone “knows” half of all American marriages end in divorce, and that was indeed the case in the 1970s and 1980s.  But it isn’t true today:

Despite hand-wringing about the institution of marriage, marriages in this country are stronger today than they have been in a long time. The divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining for the three decades since.

About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at even lower rates. If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce, according to data from Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist (who also contributes to The Upshot).

There are many reasons for the drop in divorce, including later marriages, birth control and the rise of so-called love marriages. These same forces have helped reduce the divorce rate in parts of Europe, too. Much of the trend has to do with changing gender roles — whom the feminist revolution helped and whom it left behind.

“Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women,” said William Doherty, a marriage therapist and professor of family social science at University of Minnesota, “so when you’re talking about changes in divorce rates, in many ways you’re talking about changes in women’s expectations.”

[…]

The delay in marriage is part of the story, allowing people more time to understand what they want in a partner and to find one. The median age for marriage in 1890 was 26 for men and 22 for women. By the 1950s, it had dropped to 23 for men and 20 for women. In 2004, it climbed to 27 for men and 26 for women.

Perhaps surprisingly, more permissive attitudes may also play a role. The fact that most people live together before marrying means that more ill-fated relationships end in breakups instead of divorce. And the growing acceptance of single-parent families has reduced the number of shotgun marriages, which were never the most stable of unions, notes Stephanie Coontz, a professor at Evergreen State College and author of “Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.”

Where is Andy’s Dad?

Heavy, dude:

Between all the fun characters, the magical nature of the toys, and burning questions like “What is the sex like between Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head?” it’s easy to forget that there are human characters in this movie. Namely, the toys’ owner, Andy; his little sister, Molly; their mom; and … wait a minute, where’s the dad? This theory by Jess Nevins explains his absence by claiming that, while Buzz Lightyear and Woody are having wacky adventures, Andy’s parents are getting a divorce.

Each Toy Story movie covers a milestone in the life of Andy: his 10th birthday, the first time he goes to summer camp, and the day he leaves for college. And for all of these important events, Andy’s father is always absent, with no explanation. Also, look at Andy’s house: There are photos of Andy, his mom, and his sister, but no dad in sight.

Then there’s the fact that in the first movie, we see the hand of Andy’s mom as she’s bringing over his present. Guess what: There’s no wedding ring.

If Andy’s dad just happened to be on a business trip or was, like, standing in the other room the whole time, you’d still probably see some evidence of his existence. Obviously there could be many, many explanations for this, but it seems likely that either Andy’s parents broke up in a bitter divorce or his dad up and left the family at some point after Molly was conceived (which wasn’t that long before the first movie, since she’s a baby). If the father left recently, this would also explain why the family is moving to a smaller house in the first movie: It’s all they can afford on one salary.

It’s amazing (and kind of depressing) how many animated movies have no fathers in them.  (And even in those that do, it rarely ends well for him.)

Divorce gets ugly

No comment:

When Feng’s wife gave birth to a girl, he was convinced it could not be his as he believed their daughter would be as beautiful as her mother, so he concluded his wife must have been unfaithful. He insisted she tell him who the father was.

When a DNA test proved that the baby was his, the wife confessed she was originally rather ugly, but had spent $100,000 (P4 million) on cosmetic plastic surgery in South Korea before they were married. Feng filed for divorce citing “false pretenses.”

Unverified photos circulating in China do show a marked improvement in looks after the women went under the knife. Interestingly, no one has been able to track down a photograph of Feng himself. A pity as we could judge for ourselves if he really is the Mr. Oh So Good-Looking he thinks he is.

After the divorce, he then sued his ex-wife. He argued that she had conned him into thinking she was a beautiful woman.  It’s clearly a man’s world in China. Amazingly, the judge agreed with Feng’s argument and ordered his ex-wife to hand over $120,000 (P4.9 million) in compensation.

“I married my wife out of love, but as soon as we had our first daughter, we began having marital issues,” said Feng. “Our daughter was incredibly ugly, to the point where it horrified me.”

“17 Common Mistakes To Avoid In Divorce Proceedings”

From family lawyer Sherry Donovan in the Huffington Post.  I agree with all of them, and I’d add an 18th: concentrate on what’s best for the children and yourself, not what might punish your ex.

I’ve warned many clients that they’re likely to come out much worse at trial than if they accepted a reasonable settlement offer, but some are so embittered that they want their day in court anyway.  If they’re particularly obstinate, I will tell them to seek other counsel.

When Scientologists divorce

ABC News looks at…wait a minute…Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are getting divorced?  Why isn’t this getting more media attention?!? 

The divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, both bold-faced names and members of the Church of Scientology, shines a light on one aspect of their religion.

For many of the world’s religions, the rituals surrounding divorce are as structured as those governing marriage. Jews seeking a divorce must sign a ritual contract. Mormons married in the temple must undergo a “sealing cancellation.” In some Muslim sects, witnesses must be present for a divorce, and in others a husband recites a formula of denunciation three times to end a marriage.

The Church of Scientology, however, is much clearer on the rituals and practices of marriage than it is on divorce, according to experts and the church’s own official website.

Rather than focus on divorce, the church concentrates on improving couples’ relationships through therapy.

“Church members believe that tension in a marriage comes from ‘overts’ and ‘withholds,’ unstated, undiscussed issues or problems,” said Stephen Kent, a religion professor at the University of Alberta.

“Communication is therefore a good way to rebuild a marriage that’s crumbling. Couples can take a course called How to ‘Improve Your Marriage’ and in dire situations auditors, or counselors, can lead couples through exercises,” he said.

“There’s no real annulment in the church. Many members have been divorced, even founder L. Ron Hubbard was married three times,” Kent said.

The church does not allow members to have contact with disconnected, or excommunicated members of the faith, making divorce inevitable sometimes when one spouse wants to continue in the faith and another wants to leave the church, according to Kent.

“If one person wants to stay in church, he can’t have contact with someone who holds doubts or criticism of the group. The doubter is called a PTS, potential trouble source.”

Holmes reportedly left the marriage – and now seeks sole custody – over fears that Cruise wanted to enroll their six-year-old daughter in the infamous Sea Organization, and now believes Scientology goons are following her around.  This is completely plauisble:

Divorce in 2011

Some new numbers:

The number of divorces initiated in Canada last year fell for the second year running, according to Statistics Canada.

Around 54,000 divorces were filed in 2010-11 in seven reporting provinces and territories (Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, representing 66 per cent of Canada’s population), two-per-cent fewer than the previous year, when about 55,000 divorce files were opened. In 2008/2009 there were more than 56,000 initiations. This year’s number marks an estimated eight per cent fall in new cases since 2006/2007.

The steady decline mirrors a fall in the number of couples tying the knot over the last two decades. Whereas in 1989, about 190,000 marriages were recorded, by 2008, the last year data are available, that number had fallen to just 150,000. According to StatsCan, it expects about 60,000 of those couples to divorce before they reach their 30th anniversaries in 2038.

And when they do make the decision to dissolve their unions, there are ways to speed up the process, according to the report. The median length of uncontested divorces was just 120 days, compared with 490 days for contested ones. Couples in B.C. were most likely to have contested divorces in 2010-11, accounting for 23 per cent of active files. Nunavut had the smallest proportion of contested divorces, at 10 per cent of active files last year.

Still, an extremely small number of cases end up requiring a trial. The report notes that just one per cent of open cases had a trial during the last year, and only two per cent had ever reached trial at any stage.