I have particularly arranged these sources in order to give the audience a complete picture of the current major research in the field of marriage and divorce. First, this reader’s guide begins with a generalized article that summarizes the results of a study which shows the major factors that seem to have influenced divorce in America. I felt that this was important to properly lay the foundation of this topic, as it contains interesting graphs and statistics. Next, as religion frequently appears as a common factor among this research, I chose three sources that delve into the impact that religiosity has on relationships and marriages. It’s made clear through these sources that there are mixed results about this factor, and I purposely wanted to include them so as not to promote one bias over another.
In addition to this, age of the individuals can clearly play a part in marital dissolution as well. Thus, this reader includes several articles: one to examine the risks of young marriage, and the other to explore the current surge in older couples’ divorce. I enjoyed the contrast of dealing with both young marriages and mature marriages having a recent surge of high divorce rates. As an interesting side note, I incorporated one source to show the findings of a study that Americans file for divorce at certain, similar months. Although it appears to be a surface level finding, the article nicely showcases the deeper reasoning behind monthly divorce patterns. Finally, this reader ends with two articles that focus on how to reduce divorce rates for the future. One source mentions emotional therapy as a helpful method, while the other source explores some beneficial aspects of arranged marriages. I felt it was appropriate to end this reader’s guide with some hopeful information about the future of marriages.
In “The Divorce-Proof Marriage,” Olga Khazan writes about the findings of a research study done to determine the factors that predict divorce. They analyzed 3,000 married couples in the US to evaluate their income, religious behavior, wedding size, wedding cost, and other factors. Key findings for reducing risk of divorce include: dating three years before proposing, having large incomes, having a large but cheap wedding, and attending church regularly.
Khazan, O. (2014, October 14). The Divorce-Proof Marriage. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/the-divorce-proof-marriage/381401/
This article from the Christian Century identifies a trend of high divorce rates in Conservative, red states in the US. By analyzing data from a previous study in the American Journal of Sociology, they point out factors that might influence this trend. Primarily, the social community of these environments tend to pressure marriage at a very young age. To further expand on this idea, the study shows that these couples will avoid seeking help from this community because marital struggles are frowned upon. Thus, they suffer alone until they see no other option besides divorce.
Divorce rate high in conservative areas. (2014). Christian Century, 131(4), 14.
In Shannon Davis and Joshua Tuttle’s journal article, they claim to address the common mistakes of typical infidelity and divorce studies. They decided to focus on the effect of religiosity on long term marriages. From a sample size (N= 763) from the panel study of Marital Instability over the Life Course, they found that religious behavior does indeed reduce the likelihood of infidelity in the marriage. Additionally, they claim that marital infidelity had no obvious effect on their likelihood of divorce. To evaluate these claims, they utilized a structural equation model through digital software. After analyzing their results, their hypotheses were generally supported.
Tuttle, J. D., & Davis, S. N. (2015). Religion, infidelity, and divorce: Reexamining the effect of religious behavior on divorce among long-married couples. Journal Of Divorce & Remarriage, 56(6), 475-489.
Wilcox and Wolfinger explore the reasons that religious participation has such a positive effect on marital satisfaction in urban America. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, they analyze relationship-related and relationship-specific behaviors and their correlation with religious habits. In their findings, they account church attendance and religious beliefs for high levels of relationship factors like temperance and affection. Basically, mutual church attendance seems to encourage supportive and nonviolent relationship behaviors.
Wilcox, W. B., & Wolfinger, N. H. (2008). Living and loving “decent”: Religion and relationship quality among urban parents. Social Science Research, 37(3), 828-843.
In Lauren Fox’s article for The Atlantic, she examines the effect that living together before marriage has on divorce rates. Contrary to the popular idea that premarital cohabitation leads to divorce, she claims that age is actually a much larger factor. In fact, those who chose to live together or get married at the age of 18 resulted in a 60 percent chance of divorce. Because of this, she cites that 23 years old is the ideal age for divorce rates to significantly drop off.
Fox, L. (2014, March 20). The Science of Cohabitation: A Step Toward Marriage, Not a Rebellion. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/the-science-of-cohabitation-a-step-toward-marriage-not-a-rebellion/284512/
In Sam Roberts’ “Divorce After 50 Grows More Common,” he expands upon the idea that more Americans than ever are getting divorced at an older age. Contrary to the popular evidence which suggests that young age is one of the primary factors for divorce, this study showcases a huge amount of growth in divorce rates among couples over 50 years old. According to the American Community Survey, more than 1 in 4 individuals in this age range reported being divorced in the past year. This seems to chip away at the current notion that length of marriage directly correlates with lower divorce likelihood.
Roberts, S. (2013, September 21). Divorce After 50 Grows More Common. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/fashion/weddings/divorce-after-50-grows-more-common.html
In this article, Olga Khazan discusses the results of a study done at the University of Washington by Brian Serafini and Julie Brines. As shown in their findings from 2001-2015, both months of March and August show significant spikes in quantity of divorce filings. To explain these findings, the authors suggest that Americans plan their divorces around major holidays and summer vacations. Khazan then summarizes their main hypotheses about this logic. First, they cite the difficulty of sharing this decision around the holidays, particularly when kids are present. Next, it could be explained by the fact that they make their final decisions right after a trip or vacation. And finally, some couples might use these trips as a “hail mary” and are disappointed when their problems do not dissipate.
Khazan, O. (2016, August 23). Why Divorce Spikes in August and March. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/08/why-divorce-spikes-in-august-and-march/496883/
In the special series featured on “All Things Considered,” host Michel Martin and author Barbara Bradley Hagerty speak about the trending phenomenon known as the Gray Divorce Revolution. This refers to the exponential growth in divorce rates from couples over 50 years old. In this discussion, she cites several factors that influence higher divorce rates: previous divorce, women’s newfound independence, and the trouble of choice in a world with longer lifespans. She then goes on to speak about one study that explored chemical reactions in the brain of happily vs. unhappily married couples. While the unhappily married couples performed poorly in this test, after weeks of emotional therapy, they were able to improve to the level of happily married spouses. Thus, suggesting that there is hope for couples on the brink of divorce.
Boomers Face A ‘Divorce Revolution,’ But Some Can Learn From Happy Couples [Audio blog interview]. (2016, March 19). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.npr.org/2016/03/19/469824356/boomers-face-a-divorce-revolution-but-some-can-learn-from-happy-couples
Maura Kelly discusses the interesting benefits from a culture of arranged marriage in her article for The Atlantic. Initially, she points out the flaws in Western society and its view on romance and marriage. When speaking about their lower levels of contentment, she claims that members of an arranged marriage tend to focus on the positive aspects of their partner. Unlike the Western idea of “true love” and “soulmates,” they don’t have unrealistic expectations of what their spouse can do for them. While they are not suggesting that America should adopt arranged marriages, there are certainly many things to learn from its success.
Kelly, M. (2012, May 01). What’s So Crazy About an Arranged Marriage? Retrieved March 30, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/05/whats-so-crazy-about-an-arranged-marriage/256561/