Is Generation X Avoiding Divorce?

Surprisingly, in today’s society, divorce is on the downswing.   Many of the news reports say that the divorce rate is about 50%.  That number is actually incorrect.  In fact, it relates to the rates of divorce in the 70s and 80s.  Current numbers indicate that the divorce rate has actually decreased.  It does lead to the question:why are Generation Xers so determined to avoid divorce?

The answer may be quite simple.  Many Generation Xers grew up in a time when their parents were divorced.  They grew up being the children who were negatively impacted, quite often, by their parents separations, and often report being very angry about how it was all handled.  As a result, getting divorced is as if they are seeing their worst nightmares come true.  They don’t want to be like their parents, in fact, they want to do anything in their power to be the opposite of their parents.

Unfortunately, this could actually be detrimental to these couples.  They may choose to stick it out when, in fact, it would be in their best interests TO divorce, and it could impact an individual’s well-being.  Staying together to “prove a point” or to “prove that you can” isn’t necessarily in anybody’s best interest.  Staying together because you are motivated to have a healthy relationship or motivated to continue a life together is.

Of course, this gets more complicated when there are children involved.  Many people believe that they should stay together for the sake of the children.  Unfortunately, children pick up on the antagonism of their parents, and that stress can trickle down and create some difficulties for them.  Parents need to be good coparents, good partners, and that will be most beneficial to their children.  What the trend seems to be is that parents put a great deal of focus ON their children (helicopter parents), which can create a dependency in their children and not allow their chidren to really learn how to be self-sufficient, self-motivated, etc.   When the focus is solely on the children, it will impact the marriage negatively.  It’s important to be able to find a way to focus on it all…not an easy accomplishment.

There may be psychological benefits to sticking it out, too.  If you can work through the difficulties, it can make your relationship stronger.  You can be a good team, especially with regard to raising your children.  The support that is present allows you to feel more positively about things.  The problem comes when these things do not exist, despite being married.

There are also benefits to divorcing at times. Relationships should bring something to each person.  If most of what is brought to the table is negative, and the suffering outweighs the positives, then divorce might be an option.  The key within a family is to learn how to continue to be effective co-parents while choosing not to be together.  This can be a big challenge and is very important.

So, if there are benefits to both sticking it out and divorcing, what’s the best option?  Of course, it is an individual thing.  The pendulum went to one side with the Baby Boomers, when they often married young and then, upon growing up together, realized that they didn’t want to be in a relationship.  The Boomers often focused on themselves more than on their children.  Fast forward to the Generation Xers, who work hard to make their marriages successful, and might put too much attention on their children.  Both sides may have their benefits, although neither is ideal.  The pendulum needs to settle back in the middle. Children need the opportunity to fall down and learn to pick themselves up.  Parents can be there after they do this, or to help at times when needed, but children won’t learn how to pick themselves up at all if they never fall.  Finding a balance between both sides will help today’s children be more well-rounded and effective in life.

What are your thoughts as to the shift in divorce rates?

Here’s a link to the segment on The Early Show, in which I discussed this topic:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7373173n&tag=mncol;lst;4

 

 

6. How does the recession influence divorce numbers and the psychology of staying together?

The recession does influence divorce.  We know that raising families is expensive.  Getting divorced can be expensive as well.  In a recession, people may choose to stay together because it is just more financially viable.  It takes shifting one’s thinking in a different way in order to do, and is being seen as happening more often than when we are not in a recession.

 

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