As we wrap up 2012, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at what the recent trends have been for divorce. Overall, since nearly half of marriages end in divorce in our nation today, these trends impact our society and our cultural norms, and literally shape the direction of our society. With that in mind, here are the top 5 recent trends in divorce:
1. Divorcing later in life. It’s been called “the gray divorce”, and even though the overall divorce rate has been going down in the U.S., the divorce rate among couples 50 and older has doubled in the past 20 years. Why? Well, licensed psychotherapist Rachel Sussman says “A lot of it stems from my generation, the Boomer generation. We’re the first generation that has entered marriage to be personally fulfilled. It’s the ‘me generation.’ We want to be happy. In previous generations, it was for financial reasons or to fulfill roles, be a good husband, be a good wife. But in this generation, your children leave home, you look at your husband or you wife, you realize you’re not happy, you’re not as afraid to leave. So people are exiting, in high numbers. “Often, couples have been married for 30, 40 years. And if they look at each other after the children are gone and say, ‘You know, we just don’t have the same interests or the same values,’ women are less afraid to make that leap and to go out into the world on their own.”
2. Lowering divorce rates. Overall, the divorce rate appears to have peaked in the 80s and has been declining since around the year 2000. What the current divorce rate is has been a much debated issue, but what we’re focusing on in this trend is actually the lowering divorce rate. The lowering divorce rate appears to be linked to many couples marrying later in life, and the slow economy of the last several years is also suspected to be a major factor, as some simply can’t afford to divorce. This leads us to the next trend.
3. Staying in unhappy marriages. There is a somewhat new trend of unhappy couples staying married because they cannot afford to divorce, due to the state of the economy. Some are calling this trend “the undivorce”. Unfortunately, many couples need both incomes to keep their heads above water and take care of their families, so they are making the difficult decision of staying together, though they really don’t want to be married anymore.
4. High divorce rates in the South and West. The Latest U.S. Census found something interesting about divorce from a geographical standpoint: the divorce rates in the South and Western part of the U.S. are higher than those in the East. Digging into this further, it appears that these areas of the U.S. also have the highest marriage rates as well. So, it makes sense that if there are more marriages there will also be more divorces. In addition, the higher divorce rate could be linked to couples in the South and West getting married at younger ages.
5. Divorce parties. An interesting trend has developed in the last few years, and that is divorced individuals are celebrating their break-ups by throwing parties some lavish. According to a report by CBS Los Angeles, divorcees reason that divorce parties help to facilitate the transition from marital life back to being single. Many others say that celebrating divorce fulfills the need for companionship in a time of personal crisis. Whatever the reason, business is booming for divorce party planners!
We live in changing times. For better or for worse, troubled marriages will continue to occur and so will divorce. Changing cultural norms, changing technology, and changing family structures will all lead to new divorce trends over the next several years. Couples who are interested in making their marriage last need to ensure they make smart, educated decisions when it comes to choosing a partner and understanding current trends can play a part of that decision-making process.