Recently, one of my friends posted a comment on Facebook that shed some light on a common misconception about people who have been divorced. There must be something wrong with them. I mean, why else would someone leave a perfectly healthy relationship just to not be with this person? Well, the problem lies in the way we think about divorce and divorced people.. not with the people who have been divorced. The relationships are obviously not healthy or the people wouldn’t get divorced.
This one actually hit a little close to home, because my husband has been divorced. I know several people who have experienced multiple failed marriages. And they are all great people. I think the problems that arise in marriage are complex and it is illogical to blame it all on one person. With that said, I did a little research to debunk some common misconceptions about this difficult experience. Let’s take a look!
- The divorce rate is so high that you have a 50/50 chance of surviving the marriage. Wrong. According to Dr.Kalman Heller (Psychcentral, 2012), divorce rates are very low: about 20%. Also, they vary according to age, sex, and income. It only makes sense that a marriage plagued with the added stressors of low income and inexperience due to age would be more likely to end in divorce. In fact, Dr. Heller’s research indicated that African American and Mexican women were more likely to experience divorce. Of course, the men were too because you can’t divorce yourself.. as far as I know.
- Divorce rates are higher now then they ever have been. Nope. In the 1970’s, California passed the No-Fault Divorce Law. This allowed couples to divorce and not worry about the headache of who got what and who paid whom. Everything pretty much went back to the way it was before you got married.. in theory. At any rate, there was a temporary jump in the number of divorces and this number peaked in the 1980’s. However, the number of divorces nationwide has been declining ever since, and more rapidly so since the 2000’s.
- Second marriages are more successful than first ones. Actually, they are less successful. According to Divorcesource.com (2012), second marriages have a higher chance of failing than first ones. The site claims that emotional baggage from the first marriage that is left unchecked (haha, no pun intended) can ruin subsequent marriages. It does make sense. If you don’t stop to discover why the first marriage failed, you are probably going to simply repeat your mistakes in the next one.
- There must be something wrong with someone who gets divorced. I think this myth is the most common one out there. I believe it is fed by our society’s strong ideal about staying married and “sticking it out”. Sometimes, people change or do stupid things that make continuing life as their partner not only difficult, but impossible. Sometimes we make mistakes and marry someone who turns out to not understand the hard work involved in a marriage. Sometimes, situations occur and two people just don’t agree on life’s course anymore. Whatever the reason, there is nothing wrong with the people who choose divorce. Sometimes, it takes a stronger person to do so. Like if you are being abused or cheated on. It can be hard to walk away from someone you love and have built a life with. I don’t see how people can so easily claim that it is… well, easy.
With all this said, I think it is important to remember that we don’t know the other person’s circumstances completely and it really is none of our business. If we can’t be understanding to others and their situations, how are we going to expect the same when we encounter a problem in life and need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to scream into to? I have to admit, I used to be one of those people that couldn’t understand why couples divorced. After being married for 6 months, I can now understand. I have a great marriage to a great guy. But you don’t always agree on core aspects of life and this can be trying. With all the myths about divorce, it is important to remember that it is sometimes necessary. AND there’s nothing wrong with you for getting one.
Heller, K, Ph.D., (2012). The Myth of the High Rate of Divorce. PsychCentral. Retrieved on 07/27/2012 from: http://psychcentral.com/lib/2012/the-myth-of-the-high-rate-of-divorce/
Divorcesource.com. (2012). Divorce Myths Uncovered. Retrieved on 07/27/2012 from: http://www.divorcesource.com/ds/main/divorce-myths-uncovered-1045.shtml