Divorce as a means of living an emotionally healthier life.
The “Good Divorce” Part 1.
Can there be a good divorce? Ahrons (1994) titled her book “The Good Divorce” as a way of embracing the notion that couples who choose to divorce can emerge emotionally well once they get a divorce or even years after a divorce. Amato (2011) points out that the belief that a good divorce can result in minimal distress and even promote the development of children and adults, which has pervaded the thinking of therapists, family courts, family scholars, and the general public.
In our society the stigma of divorce has led to the enduring of physical and psychological developmental damage in adults and more significantly in children. The nature of family life has changed in America – not for the first time the pendulum swings again. Historically, divorce in America is not new. Divorce trends have changed and continue to change since the early years of America’s foundation as a country. There were times in history when divorce was looked upon as a favorable decision for individuals to make.
More recently, the rate of marriages has declined but at the core of this belief is the idea that it is better to live in a cohabitating relationship to then determine if the couple is right for each other and get married. Nonetheless, people still get married and get divorced. Statistics of divorcing couples show that there are one million divorces every year in the United States, with approximately 67% ending a second marriage and the percentage being worse for third marriages (CNBC, 2012). In Cook County between 2011 and 2014 there were 45,376 divorces (Cook County Court, 2015).
In Illinois the no-fault divorce law allows couples to get a dissolution of marriage without showing a wrongdoing by either party. Individuals (those whose spouses have abandoned them) and couples where there are irreconcilable differences declared seek a divorce as an option to staying in a doomed and unhealthy marriage. Some cited reasons for divorce are: domestic violence, abandonment by a spouse, infidelity, younger age of marriage, psychological immaturity and unstable employment to name a few.
It is not possible to assess the number of couples that get divorced for reasons that are detrimental to their (and their children’s) mental health. However, when considering divorce people need to reflect on how much damage is being experienced in their, and their children’s physical and mental states to move forward with a divorce. Many times divorce is not a choice for an individual but an unwelcome fact. Religion has played a major role in marriage and divorce. There are diverse beliefs about divorce, yet there seems to be a pragmatic understanding and sympathetic view of many who get divorce. Recently Pope Francis stated, “There are cases in which separation is inevitable. Sometimes, it can even be morally necessary, when it’s about shielding the weaker spouse or young children from the more serious wounds caused by intimidation and violence, humiliation and exploitation” (New York Post, 2015).
It seems that when individuals are deeply unhappy in their marriages, for whatever reasons, it is only fair that our society consider divorce a better option to staying together and place less pressure on individuals/couples and abandon the stigma of divorce so that individuals can heal without shame and live a healthier life.
Coming up: The “Good Divorce” Part II – Exploring the more positive aspects of children and divorce.