The Divorce Generation


#1

Having grown up in an era in which no one I knew had divorced parents, the article linked below made me sad.

My parents marriage lasted until death, so did that of all the people in my neighborhood, and all my friends throughout grade school, high school, and even college. So did mine.

The writer begins by recounting how each generation has some pivotal event that marks their memory, D-Day, JFK assassination, Nixon resignation. For her generation, the pivotal question was: "When did your parents get divorced?"

Reading the article, it seemed to me that she describes a generation of orphans.

She says that her generation was determined not to repeat the mistakes of their parents. They would have better marriages. But she ends by concluding that they at least have better divorces. I'm not so sure even of that. What will her children say about it?

Here's the link. The Divorce Generation

I'd be curious to know whether CAF Gen-X'rs can relate to her story.

I guess my question is also: what went wrong?


#2

The simplest an most succinct answer is that the U.S. (and Europe a little before them) abandoned God in large numbers and stopped living for anyone but themselves. The macroscopic reasons are legion, but the big one comes down to an erosion of morals and people's relationships with God; I see it every day.


#3

Most of my closest friends had intact families, but most people I knew growing up had divorced parents and they suffered greatly for it. I taught a girl last year who was so traumatized that her mom said to never mention fathers or read stories that included them because it upset her so much. That's one thing we learned in college, actually, that talking about families is very controversial and that even implying that a married mom and dad is normal (let alone ideal!) is very offensive. The new definition of family is a group of people who love each other (that's seriously the word for word definition found in kids' textbooks now). If a married man and woman who come together to have children is no longer the definition, it can be anything you want and "but we love each other!" becomes the only definition broad enough to fit it all. In college they said whenever families or mentioned, we have to make sure we talk about gay families, single moms, grandparents raising kids, and the chaotic trainwreck that are divorced families. When you have a child whose parents divorce, then each remarry and bring in stepbrothers and sisters to the home, then have new kids that become the child's half-siblings, then get divorced again, then have a revolving door of new girlfriends/boyfriends come in a and out of the child's life until one finally moves in, and the whole time the kid is bouncing around between houses due to custody arraingements, you can be sure the child grows up unhappy.


#4

This article is the type of thing that keeps me Catholic. We're the only church that has the gall to teach that divorce is really not an option. The author only stuck it out 9 years? After all her talk about being anti-divorce, this seems ridiculous. She didn't even give it a very good try, imho!


#5

IMO, what went wrong was artificial birth control. When you take the 1st purpose out of marriage, which is procreation, you weaken God's plan and put it into the hands of men, and we all know what happens when we try to run our own lives.

When men can get sex from women who aren't interested in marriage, why get married, and why stay married if it's not for children? When you take children out as the purpose of marriage, then what you are left with is personal happiness. And when I am personally unhappy, if that is what marriage is about, don't I then have the right, nay, the OBLIGATION to leave and go where I am happiest?


#6

[quote="Charlotte1776, post:3, topic:247723"]
Most of my closest friends had intact families, but most people I knew growing up had divorced parents and they suffered greatly for it. I taught a girl last year who was so traumatized that her mom said to never mention fathers or read stories that included them because it upset her so much. That's one thing we learned in college, actually, that talking about families is very controversial and that even implying that a married mom and dad is normal (let alone ideal!) is very offensive. The new definition of family is a group of people who love each other (that's seriously the word for word definition found in kids' textbooks now). If a married man and woman who come together to have children is no longer the definition, it can be anything you want and "but we love each other!" becomes the only definition broad enough to fit it all. In college they said whenever families or mentioned, we have to make sure we talk about gay families, single moms, grandparents raising kids, and the chaotic trainwreck that are divorced families. When you have a child whose parents divorce, then each remarry and bring in stepbrothers and sisters to the home, then have new kids that become the child's half-siblings, then get divorced again, then have a revolving door of new girlfriends/boyfriends come in a and out of the child's life until one finally moves in, and the whole time the kid is bouncing around between houses due to custody arraingements, you can be sure the child grows up unhappy.

[/quote]

I have been reading "The Flipside of Feminism," by Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly. Haven't finished it yet, but what you said above about college reminds me of their thesis. The authors contend that the primary instigators of the feminist movement projected their own depression and dissatisfaction upon women as a whole, and built up a false image of oppressed womanhood. They then attempted--it seems rather successfully--to remake society in their own image by destroying the traditional family. My own experience supports what the authors say--that women in earlier generations were not oppressed, unliberated, and unhappy, but rather far happier with their lives than women today.


#7

[quote="JimG, post:6, topic:247723"]
I have been reading "The Flipside of Feminism," by Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly. Haven't finished it yet, but what you said above about college reminds me of their thesis. The authors contend that the primary instigators of the feminist movement projected their own depression and dissatisfaction upon women as a whole, and built up a false image of oppressed womanhood. They then attempted--it seems rather successfully--to remake society in their own image by destroying the traditional family. My own experience supports what the authors say--that women in earlier generations were not oppressed, unliberated, and unhappy, but rather far happier with their lives than women today.

[/quote]

I have read that we owe all this societal disruption to a few closeted lesbians who did not want to return to the home after WWII was over, so they started pushing for their rights to keep working and voila! total societal breakdown. And now we have young women who cannot imagine staying home and raising their own babies. :(


#8

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:7, topic:247723"]
I have read that we owe all this societal disruption to a few closeted lesbians who did not want to return to the home after WWII was over, so they started pushing for their rights to keep working and voila! total societal breakdown. And now we have young women who cannot imagine staying home and raising their own babies. :(

[/quote]

Yet most of them, both men and women, wanted a return to normality. They got married and brought about the baby boomers.

Even before the feminists began to raise the issue of home as oppressive, women were in the workforce--some 50% of women by 1960 with no help from the feminists. My own mother worked off and on most of her life, when she wanted to, when she needed to, not because she saw home life as oppression, as Betty Friedan did.

From the original linked article:

"In 1962, half of all adult women believed that parents in bad marriages should stay together for the children's sake; by 1980, only one in five felt that way. "Four-fifths of [those] divorced adults profess to being happier afterward," the authors write, "but a majority of their children feel otherwise.""

Did parents decide that when it came to choosing between their own best interest and their children, they always chose themselves?


#9

When Baby Boomers divorced, their Gen X kids were oftentimes left out in the cold. In reaction to that, Gen X parents devote a huge amount of effort in making idyllic lives for their kids, just as the author states. Helicopter parenting, anyone? They oftentimes do this to the point that they forget their spouses and become room mates, just like what happened to the author. More often than not, it's the wives who become so focused on their kids that they forget there is a man in the house. And no one wants to be where they're an afterthought.

Reactionary anything - parenting styles, views on marriage and family - don't work.


#10

[quote="JimG, post:8, topic:247723"]
Did parents decide that when it came to choosing between their own best interest and their children, they always chose themselves?

[/quote]

Giving Baby Boomers the benefit of the doubt, and taking into consideration that the 70s was called the Me Decade for a reason, I think they didn't stop to consider the impact of divorce on their kids. They went with the thinking that "if I'm happy, of course my kids wlll be happy, too."


#11

[quote="lovemyboys, post:4, topic:247723"]
This article is the type of thing that keeps me Catholic. We're the only church that has the gall to teach that divorce is really not an option. The author only stuck it out 9 years? After all her talk about being anti-divorce, this seems ridiculous. She didn't even give it a very good try, imho!

[/quote]

I understand what you are saying, but don't let being Catholic give you a false sense of security on this. My husband is/was Catholic and it didn't stop him from telling me he wanted a divorce and walking out. I sacrificed everything for years of my marriage--where I lived, what I did for a career, what friends I had, I even didn't have children for years because it's not what he wanted... didn't do me a lick of good. Although I suppose you could argue that my husband wasn't really Catholic from the start (for various reasons which I won't get into here).

Anyway, I find the whole article depressing. There is nothing I could do to save my marriage (I tried for years, tried counseling--he stopped going, even went to the Church). He wanted out for his own reasons and I couldn't stop him. So now my daughter is a victim of divorce--it makes me so sad. If I could have kept things together for her sake, I would have. I tried for years.

The irony is, and maybe some of you will judge me for this, I am the one putting the nail in the coffin so to speak by filing for the divorce. Yes, he walked out and no, he didn't actually file... but he's too much of a risk for me legally and financially with his current lifestyle. Yes, I have talked to a priest about all this and I was told I am fine to file for divorce. And no, my state doesn't recognize a "legal separation" so until I am divorced, I am at risk.


#12

[quote="mellowcalico, post:11, topic:247723"]
The irony is, and maybe some of you will judge me for this, I am the one putting the nail in the coffin so to speak by filing for the divorce. Yes, he walked out and no, he didn't actually file... but he's too much of a risk for me legally and financially with his current lifestyle. Yes, I have talked to a priest about all this and I was told I am fine to file for divorce. And no, my state doesn't recognize a "legal separation" so until I am divorced, I am at risk.

[/quote]

While some people may judge you for filing for divorce, ask yourself:

  • Will the judgers help you restore your credit score if your husband takes out a credit card in your name and defaults on the payments?
  • Will they assume the new mortgage if he takes out a line of credit on your house?
  • Will they buy your car back if he decides to sell it on Ebay?
  • Will they reimburse you if he drains your join bank accounts?
  • Will they respresent you with the IRS if he commits tax fraud after you've filed a joint tax return?

The answers are probably no, they will not. You have to do what you need to do in order to protect yourself and your children now and in the future. If this means you're the one filing for divorce, you need to file and not worry - not even think about - what anonymous people on the Internet tell you.

My only advice to you is to retain the best family law attorney you can afford and follow her advice to the letter.

I'll pray for your situation, Mellow. I am so sorry that you're dealing with this.


#13

[quote="mellowcalico, post:11, topic:247723"]
I understand what you are saying, but don't let being Catholic give you a false sense of security on this. My husband is/was Catholic and it didn't stop him from telling me he wanted a divorce and walking out. I sacrificed everything for years of my marriage--where I lived, what I did for a career, what friends I had, I even didn't have children for years because it's not what he wanted... didn't do me a lick of good. Although I suppose you could argue that my husband wasn't really Catholic from the start (for various reasons which I won't get into here).

Anyway, I find the whole article depressing. There is nothing I could do to save my marriage (I tried for years, tried counseling--he stopped going, even went to the Church). He wanted out for his own reasons and I couldn't stop him. So now my daughter is a victim of divorce--it makes me so sad. If I could have kept things together for her sake, I would have. I tried for years.

The irony is, and maybe some of you will judge me for this, I am the one putting the nail in the coffin so to speak by filing for the divorce. Yes, he walked out and no, he didn't actually file... but he's too much of a risk for me legally and financially with his current lifestyle. Yes, I have talked to a priest about all this and I was told I am fine to file for divorce. And no, my state doesn't recognize a "legal separation" so until I am divorced, I am at risk.

[/quote]

If anyone judges you for that, they can deal with me!

:slapfight:

Of course you have to protect yourself legally and financially, and you did everything you could to keep your marriage together. It takes 2 people to fix a problem and if 1 person decides it's over, what can the other spouse do...nothing.

:shrug:


#14

Thank you Karow and TheRealJuliane, you are both very kind :)

You'd be surprised, sure people online judge me (I am told I am not trying hard enough, I am selfish, all kinds of things), but I also get the cold shoulder in real life too when they find out I am divorcing. It's a conversation stopper if I mention it and it usually doesn't take long before I am on my own in a group. I am so self conscious about being a "single mom" that I tend to go to the least crowded Masses and sit in the back of the Church or away from others so I am less conspicuous.

Now, to be fair, most online (and in real life) are kind, it's the few that do scowl at me every now and then that seem to haunt me. I think part of it is I feel horrible about the whole situation anyway--like I could have done something else, done more... but failed (although really I didn't stand a chance).

But pretty much the reasons you listed are the reasons I "have" to proceed. He could do some of those things. Did you know if he gets in an accident and kills someone, I can be sued? And he's already stung me a few times (namely running up credit that I am liable for). He also tends not to pay for medical bills for our daughter (I am in the hole $700 for some fillings she needed done and he hasn't contributed a dime to it... but it had to be done. I couldn't let her teeth rot). Once it's a "divorce," then it becomes a court order that he help out on these things... and it separates his financial and legal dealings from mine.


#15

[quote="karow, post:12, topic:247723"]
**While some people may judge you for filing for divorce, ask yourself:

  • Will the judgers help you restore your credit score if your husband takes out a credit card in your name and defaults on the payments?
  • Will they assume the new mortgage if he takes out a line of credit on your house?
  • Will they buy your car back if he decides to sell it on Ebay?
  • Will they reimburse you if he drains your join bank accounts?
  • Will they respresent you with the IRS if he commits tax fraud after you've filed a joint tax return?** The answers are probably no, they will not. You have to do what you need to do in order to protect yourself and your children now and in the future. If this means you're the one filing for divorce, you need to file and not worry - not even think about - what anonymous people on the Internet tell you.

My only advice to you is to retain the best family law attorney you can afford and follow her advice to the letter.

I'll pray for your situation, Mellow. I am so sorry that you're dealing with this.

[/quote]

Amen! :clapping::clapping:


#16

I'm not quite gen X by the definition (born in 85, so I guess that puts me at the beginning of Gen Y) but my DH and I have seen enough divorce. In fact, in 2 extended families (DH's grandparents aunts and uncles and mine) only 2 couples are still together (and DH's grandma stayed with his grandpa until he died). Many of our family members have divorced and remarried more than once. I know I am at least personally terrified. I've seen what divorce can do, my parents divorced, it was ugly. It's always ugly. DH's father took off when he was 10 and he hasn't seen him since. We really lack role models for healthy relationships. I worry a lot about it. We know what unhealthy relationships look like but it is hard for me not to fall into bad patterns. We're pretty young and we've only been married 3 years but it is something I pray about a lot. I know for us at least seeing all that divorce we know it's not something we want. I can see how children of divorce would be more sensitive about their own marriages. But I think it is also normalized for us. I have friends, midtwenties, already with a divorce under their belts.


#17

[quote="mellowcalico, post:11, topic:247723"]
I understand what you are saying, but don't let being Catholic give you a false sense of security on this. My husband is/was Catholic and it didn't stop him from telling me he wanted a divorce and walking out. I sacrificed everything for years of my marriage--where I lived, what I did for a career, what friends I had, I even didn't have children for years because it's not what he wanted... didn't do me a lick of good. Although I suppose you could argue that my husband wasn't really Catholic from the start (for various reasons which I won't get into here).

Anyway, I find the whole article depressing. There is nothing I could do to save my marriage (I tried for years, tried counseling--he stopped going, even went to the Church). He wanted out for his own reasons and I couldn't stop him. So now my daughter is a victim of divorce--it makes me so sad. If I could have kept things together for her sake, I would have. I tried for years.

The irony is, and maybe some of you will judge me for this, I am the one putting the nail in the coffin so to speak by filing for the divorce. Yes, he walked out and no, he didn't actually file... but he's too much of a risk for me legally and financially with his current lifestyle. Yes, I have talked to a priest about all this and I was told I am fine to file for divorce. And no, my state doesn't recognize a "legal separation" so until I am divorced, I am at risk.

[/quote]

No, you didn't put the nail in the coffin. He had done that long before.

And you are right that being Catholic is not an automatic protection against divorce. My wife was friends with another parishioner who had been married for 25 years. One day it seemed that her husband had gotten a makeover and was out jogging with another woman. Divorce followed. I don't know the cause. Midlife crisis??


#18

I missed being a Generation Xer by 3 years. That's not the only difference. I read the article, and I had almost the exact opposite of the writer.

I was 7 when my parents started having marital problems. Unbeknownst to me, my dad had lost his job, and simply stopped working. He would get involved in "get rich quick" schemes. His parents would pay the bills, so he never had to work. Even so, it wasn't enough. My mom tried to convince my dad and his parents that we should move out of our large house into a smaller one, since we couldn't afford it. They said no, and the house was eventually foreclosed and my parents filed bankruptcy. My dad didn't care.

My dad never hit us, but he threw terrible tantrums. I used to walk by a dent in the wall on the stairs, where my dad had kicked the wall. He threw a plastic container of markers at my mother and screamed at her to get out of the house. Several times he would throw tantrums in the car. He would start speeding, stomping on the gas and breaking quickly, to scare my brother and I so we would start crying and begging him to stop. He didn't stop, until he got what he wanted. I remember once, when I was still in elementary school, waking up in the middle of the night to my dad screaming at my mom. I thought "He's going to kill her," and I envisioned him stabbing her, he was so angry. I willed myself to stay awake, so that I could hear my mother's voice and know that she was still alive.

Yet, despite all this, I was terrified of divorce. I tried to convince myself that what was going on in my family was normal, that this kind of behavior was commonplace. "All men behave like this," I assured myself. Needless to say, as much as I hated divorce, I hated marriage even more.

It wasn't until I was 15 that I was able to break free of this thinking. I realized that my dad didn't have any right to treat my mom, my brother, and me in that way. I also realized that, as long as my mom was married to him, and we kept living with my dad, we were sending a message to my dad that his behavior was ok. My brother, 3 years younger than me, felt the same way. We had enough, and we could no longer live like that. We asked our mother to get a divorce. We begged her. For almost a year.

The irony is, after my parents divorced, my brother went through the exact reverse of what the author in the WSJ described. After my parents divorced, my brother, who previously listened to heavy metal music, wore black clothes and acted out violently, began to calm down. He stopped listening to death metal music, and began to read and take piano lessons. Our grades, which had dipped before the divorce, improved dramatically, especially in my brother's case.

Almost a year after our parents divorced, my dad, who hadn't changed a bit, told us he wanted to reconcile. My brother and I threw a fit and told him he was no longer a part of our family, and I assured mom that, if she got back together with dad, I would run away from home.

:shrug:


#19

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:5, topic:247723"]
IMO, what went wrong was artificial birth control. When you take the 1st purpose out of marriage, which is procreation, you weaken God's plan and put it into the hands of men, and we all know what happens when we try to run our own lives.

When men can get sex from women who aren't interested in marriage, why get married, and why stay married if it's not for children? When you take children out as the purpose of marriage, then what you are left with is personal happiness. And when I am personally unhappy, if that is what marriage is about, don't I then have the right, nay, the OBLIGATION to leave and go where I am happiest?

[/quote]

You hit the nail on the head. Granted this falls under the larger umbrella of loss of morality and a sense of God in society, but as far as direct causes, this is up at the top of the list.

Mellowcallico: Divorce is sometimes necessary to protect yourself or your children. The Catholic Church acknowledges this as a legal means of protection. I wouldn't dare to presume you are divorcing for the wrong reasons given the details you've supplied, esp. given that you prudently discussed the topic with a priest and he indicated that it would be appropriate in this case. My heart goes out to you and your daughter; I wish you and your family the best. :)


#20

[quote="Charlotte1776, post:3, topic:247723"]
Most of my closest friends had intact families, but most people I knew growing up had divorced parents and they suffered greatly for it. I taught a girl last year who was so traumatized that her mom said to never mention fathers or read stories that included them because it upset her so much. That's one thing we learned in college, actually, that talking about families is very controversial and that even implying that a married mom and dad is normal (let alone ideal!) is very offensive. The new definition of family is a group of people who love each other (that's seriously the word for word definition found in kids' textbooks now). If a married man and woman who come together to have children is no longer the definition, it can be anything you want and "but we love each other!" becomes the only definition broad enough to fit it all. In college they said whenever families or mentioned, we have to make sure we talk about gay families, single moms, grandparents raising kids, and the chaotic trainwreck that are divorced families. When you have a child whose parents divorce, then each remarry and bring in stepbrothers and sisters to the home, then have new kids that become the child's half-siblings, then get divorced again, then have a revolving door of new girlfriends/boyfriends come in a and out of the child's life until one finally moves in, and the whole time the kid is bouncing around between houses due to custody arraingements, you can be sure the child grows up unhappy.

[/quote]

Elmo's world has a song about families. (not Elmo singing, thankfully ;))

Any group of people Living together And loving each other Are doing the family thing You might live With your mother and your father Or maybe its You and Grandpa Or maybe youre living With your two little brothers Your sister and your Ma Oh, maybe its your aunt Your uncle and your cousin Your baby sister and you, yeahhhhh It doesnt really matter Just who youre living with If theres love youre a family too Now, we all can sing Were doing the family thing Everybody sing Doing the family thing Now, we all can sing Any group of people Living together And loving each other Are doing the family thing A family can be What it wants to be Cause theres all different leaves On the family tree And there`s all different types Of families Who are living together And loving each other Are doing the family thing Doing the family thing Doing the family Doing the family thing


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