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Subject: What's so bad about divorce? rss

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J J
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Russia (or at least Dmitry Medvedev) feels that it is necessary to heavily punish people who divorce, both to cause people to think twice before committing to marriage (fair enough, any commitment like it ought to be given proper consideration), and also to prevent divorce.

What's so bad about divorce? While humans do in general tend toward monogamy, history shows that its serial monogamy that we're best at. I find that anthropology, sociology, and history give a very, very different take on marriage and divorce from the glib slogans trotted out by politicians.
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Boaty McBoatface
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The damage it does to children, the fact you have to establish who owns what (which wastes courts time).

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I agree that divorce is necessary but given the effects on families etc and the legal implications it should be a last resort, not a first resort.
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slatersteven wrote:
The damage it does to children, the fact you have to establish who owns what (which wastes courts time).



You don't always have to establish that. It is entirely possible to divorce amicably (and I've seen it quite frequently). However, that is not a waste of court time, that is exactly why we have courts.

It doesn't necessarily damage children, but apart from that a continued bad marriage can also damage children.
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Boaty McBoatface
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JasonJ0 wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
The damage it does to children, the fact you have to establish who owns what (which wastes courts time).



You don't always have to establish that. It is entirely possible to divorce amicably (and I've seen it quite frequently). However, that is not a waste of court time, that is exactly why we have courts.

It doesn't necessarily damage children, but apart from that a continued bad marriage can also damage children.
This is why divorce should (as Moshe said) be a last resort, and why it should be allowed. You asked what was bad abut divorce, these thing are what is bad about divorce.
 
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Being married to a child of divorce, quite a lot. Every now and then when there is a family discussion about child-rearing, my divorced-and-remarried FIL tries to trump everyone with, "Show of hands of everyone who has raised children to adulthood" (only he raises his hand). My wife has to use every ounce of restraint to abstain from retorting, "Show of hands how many of your children went into extensive therapy." (A: all of them.)
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I've been divorced. No kids, young relationship, it was a rough time for a little while but in the grand scheme of things totally harmless.
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Chad Ellis
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Whether divorce is harmful is one thing -- whether it is sometimes also the right choice is another.

I think it's pretty rare to find a divorce that does no harm. At the very least, the end of a marriage should be sad for the people involved (unless it was purely for a separate purpose, e.g. to get someone a green card or back in the day a gay man and a lesbian giving each other cover). Staying married, however, can also do harm.

My parents divorced when I was in my early twenties. I was surprised because after assuming they would get divorced once my brother and I were in college and then figuring they were waiting until we graduated I had assumed that maybe they decided they just didn't want to go through with it. Turns out they were waiting until we were both solidly established in our first jobs, or something.

They stayed married for us, and I've always wondered whether that decision was a net positive. We avoided the disruption and loss of confidence that many kids go through when their parents split and all the challenges of spending time at two homes, etc. But we also lived in a house where the adults weren't happy and where their ability to share positive emotions was a lot less than it is today.

I think people underestimate the benefit kids receive -- both direct and indirect -- from having happy parents. I know some couples who would divorce if it weren't for the kids and in most cases I actually think their kids would be better off if they took that "let's sacrifice for our kids' sake" love and used it to make sure their divorce was amicable and that they were still able to co-parent effectively.
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Not every divorce is bad. There are advantages to having it in a society.

Divorce in the broader sense, without any societal pressures, encourages people to run from situations and pursue a world perfectly in line with a self-centered world view rather than working through problems and making compramises. Divorces, in many cases, inflicts significant emotional trauma. This trauma bleeds from the actors into the community at large through emotional diffuson(depression/anger is transferable) so there's that. There's more but I am on my phone.

tl;dr akin to abortion divorce provides an important service to society and should be available, but always presented as a last resort.
 
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JasonJ0 wrote:

You don't always have to establish that. It is entirely possible to divorce amicably (and I've seen it quite frequently). However, that is not a waste of court time, that is exactly why we have courts.
.


My parents divorce was completely amicable, and look at me.
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
I've been divorced. No kids, young relationship, it was a rough time for a little while but in the grand scheme of things totally harmless.


So neither of you entered the marriage with a substantial disparity in assets, no alimony, no fight about grannies old engagement ring which was smuggled to the US from the Warsaw ghetto?

Good for you but you seem pretty lucky (not saying thats not what you mean).
 
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myopia wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
I've been divorced. No kids, young relationship, it was a rough time for a little while but in the grand scheme of things totally harmless.


So neither of you entered the marriage with a substantial disparity in assets, no alimony, no fight about grannies old engagement ring which was smuggled to the US from the Warsaw ghetto?

Good for you but you seem pretty lucky (not saying thats not what you mean).


I got granny's ring back, we were married fresh out of college although she came from a very wealthy family while I did not, and since we made approximately the same amount of money it was pretty straightforward. I kept all my school debts (she had none) and she kept the ridiculous furniture she'd wanted and bought me out of the townhouse we owned. Granted, none of this would have been as easy if she hadn't had her dad just write me a check for my share of our joint assets, but there was minimal ugliness once we knew that's where it was going. Not that it wasn't unpleasant while it was going on, mind you, but once the dust settled it had no real effect on my life other than teaching me what was actually important in a relationship.
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
But we also lived in a house where the adults weren't happy and where their ability to share positive emotions was a lot less than it is today.

I think people underestimate the benefit kids receive -- both direct and indirect -- from having happy parents. I know some couples who would divorce if it weren't for the kids and in most cases I actually think their kids would be better off if they took that "let's sacrifice for our kids' sake" love and used it to make sure their divorce was amicable and that they were still able to co-parent effectively.


"Happiness, the moment right before you need more happiness" -Don Draper.

Happiness, such a funny word. Always with a pie in the sky meaning. I've never met a happy divorce'. Usually, they thought that it would make them happy, but then find it wasn't the marriage that made them unhappy, it's that they are just unhappy people.


Disclaimer: All responses from this point onward doesn't include separation due to abuse or one kind or another.
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MWChapel wrote:


Happiness, such a funny word. Always with a pie in the sky meaning. I've never met a happy divorce'. Usually, they thought that it would make them happy, but then find it wasn't the marriage that made them unhappy, it's that they are just unhappy people.


I guess I'm just an unhappy person then? Dick.
 
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MWChapel wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
But we also lived in a house where the adults weren't happy and where their ability to share positive emotions was a lot less than it is today.

I think people underestimate the benefit kids receive -- both direct and indirect -- from having happy parents. I know some couples who would divorce if it weren't for the kids and in most cases I actually think their kids would be better off if they took that "let's sacrifice for our kids' sake" love and used it to make sure their divorce was amicable and that they were still able to co-parent effectively.


"Happiness, the moment right before you need more happiness" -Don Draper.

Happiness, such a funny word. Always with a pie in the sky meaning. I've never met a happy divorce'. Usually, they thought that it would make them happy, but then find it wasn't the marriage that made them unhappy, it's that they are just unhappy people.


I don't think my parents got divorced thinking it would "make them happy". I think they got divorced because they were making each other unhappy. In any case, both of them are much happier today than they were back then. They've each found a partner who is much better for them and they are each living the kind of life they want to lead. My relationships with them are much more fun as well.
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Lynette
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JasonJ0 wrote:


It doesn't necessarily damage children, but apart from that a continued bad marriage can also damage children.


Actually a great many scientific studies, now that we have had enough years of easy divorce to have data to analyze, have shown that divorce almost always damages kids... even a bad and unhappy marriage is better for the KIDS than divorce. There are many theories floating about as to why... and if you actually care I might try to find some of my old posts where I links some of that data.

The only exceptions are in situations were the children are being severely abused AND/OR watching their mother be severely abused. And then it is a case of choosing which kind of damage to let them take, the divorce is still damaging, but remaining is usually much more damaging.


Here is just one book that is based on just one of the many studies done.

Between Two Worlds

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Is there really such a thing as a good divorce ? Determined to uncover the truth, Elizabeth Marquardt herself a child of divorce conducted, with Professor Norval Glenn, a pioneering national study of children of divorce, surveying 1,500 young adults from both divorced and intact families between 2001 and 2003. In Between Two Worlds, she weaves the findings of that study together with powerful, unsentimental stories of the childhoods of young people from divorced families.

The hard truth, she says, is that while divorce is sometimes necessary, even amicable divorces sow lasting inner conflict in the lives of children. When a family breaks in two, children who stay in touch with both parents must travel between two worlds, trying alone to reconcile their parents often strikingly different beliefs, values, and ways of living. Authoritative, beautifully written, and alive with the voices of men and women whose lives were changed by divorce, Marquardt s book is essential reading for anyone who grew up between two worlds.

Makes a persuasive case against the culture of casual divorce.

Amazon excerpt of review in Washington Post


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Since none of our conservative or libertarian brothers and sisters have stated it yet, regardless of the consequences of divorce, does the state need to set punishment thresholds to modify our behavior when it comes to divorce? Making divorce difficult beyond the the already potentially contentious act it is, doesn't really seem an appropriate use of state power.

In order to justify this kind of heavy handed social engineering, you need to show compelling negative externalities on society as a whole. Negatives that actually undermine society and weaken the social fabric of the country in question. As long as children are protected from neglect and abandonment, preventing unhappy people from getting away from each other shouldn't be the government's business.
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TheChin! wrote:
Since none of our conservative or libertarian brothers and sisters have stated it yet, regardless of the consequences of divorce, does the state need to set punishment thresholds to modify our behavior when it comes to divorce? Making divorce difficult beyond the the already potentially contentious act it is, doesn't really seem an appropriate use of state power.

In order to justify this kind of heavy handed social engineering, you need to show compelling negative externalities on society as a whole. Negatives that actually undermine society and weaken the social fabric of the country in question. As long as children are protected from neglect and abandonment, preventing unhappy people from getting away from each other shouldn't be the government's business.


Yes, government social engineering is bad, but then again, this is about Russia, so, what's ever right there?
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Meerkat wrote:


Quote:


Makes a persuasive case against the culture of casual divorce.

Amazon excerpt of review in Washington Post




I think the conclusion is off, more like "Makes a persuasive case against the culture of casual marriage."

Sure, liberal application of divorce encourages casual marriages and it starts to become a chicken/egg dillema, but I don't think people are educated enough on what "compatible" means when it comes to moving into a binding legal agreement with a potential life partner. Much like raising children, there seems to be a real lack of knowledge transfer of wisdom from the experienced to the inexperienced and when left to their own inexperience, young brides and grooms are picking mates for the wrong reasons and then by the time their lives together become unbearable they've already brought one or more people (children) into the situation to suffer with them.
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Meerkat wrote:
Actually a great many scientific studies, now that we have had enough years of easy divorce to have data to analyze, have shown that divorce almost always damages kids... even a bad and unhappy marriage is better for the KIDS than divorce. There are many theories floating about as to why... and if you actually care I might try to find some of my old posts where I links some of that data.


I'd be curious to see some of those studies. This seems like an extremely difficult type of question to answer empirically, since isolating effects is pretty much impossible.

If we take the set of "unhappy" marriages and compare the kids from the subset that divorce with the kids from the subset that don't, how do we know what is causing differences between them? It could be that it's due to the divorce itself but it could also be that the parents who choose divorce are, in aggregate, more unhappy or simply less successful at working out their issues than those that choose to stay married.

There may be ways to control for this -- e.g. Amato and Booth attempted to quantify marriages as "high" or "low" in conflict -- but it's not easy.

Quote:
The only exceptions are in situations were the children are being severely abused AND/OR watching their mother be severely abused. And then it is a case of choosing which kind of damage to let them take, the divorce is still damaging, but remaining is usually much more damaging.


I'm pretty sure that's an exaggeration. In Amato and Booth's study, for example, fully 1/3 of divorces were from "high conflict" marriages and average outcomes for kids in those divorces were better than for kids in intact "high conflict" marriages. That category included many non-abusive situations.
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TheChin! wrote:
Meerkat wrote:


Quote:


Makes a persuasive case against the culture of casual divorce.

Amazon excerpt of review in Washington Post




I think the conclusion is off, more like "Makes a persuasive case against the culture of casual marriage."

Sure, liberal application of divorce encourages casual marriages and it starts to become a chicken/egg dillema, but I don't think people are educated enough on what "compatible" means when it comes to moving into a binding legal agreement with a potential life partner. Much like raising children, there seems to be a real lack of knowledge transfer of wisdom from the experienced to the inexperienced and when left to their own inexperience, young brides and grooms are picking mates for the wrong reasons and then by the time their lives together become unbearable they've already brought one or more people (children) into the situation to suffer with them.


It isn't that you don't make an interesting point and I do think young people today go into marriage too casually with too many UNREALISTIC expectations.

However I look back at my great grandparents, grandparents and parents along with with their siblings and see that most of them married much younger and often with less "compatibility" in terms of likes/dislikes and personality types than many people from my generation and younger considered necessary to make a relationship work... and yet they did make most of those marriages work, until death. And they were content if not down right happy for the most part for most of their lives.

Sure they had really bad patches along the way, but the lack of divorce as an option in THEIR OWN MINDS meant they had to work through them to find the love again. And the vast majority of them did.

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Meerkat wrote:

It isn't that you don't make an interesting point and I do think young people today go into marriage too casually with too many UNREALISTIC expectations.


Which kind of parallels the Gen-Y thread, unrealistic expectations seems to sour many people's struggle with reality.
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
Meerkat wrote:
Actually a great many scientific studies, now that we have had enough years of easy divorce to have data to analyze, have shown that divorce almost always damages kids... even a bad and unhappy marriage is better for the KIDS than divorce. There are many theories floating about as to why... and if you actually care I might try to find some of my old posts where I links some of that data.


I'd be curious to see some of those studies. This seems like an extremely difficult type of question to answer empirically, since isolating effects is pretty much impossible.

If we take the set of "unhappy" marriages and compare the kids from the subset that divorce with the kids from the subset that don't, how do we know what is causing differences between them? It could be that it's due to the divorce itself but it could also be that the parents who choose divorce are, in aggregate, more unhappy or simply less successful at working out their issues than those that choose to stay married.


The best one I read used statistics of outcomes... aka how the kids did upon adulthood in critical functioning areas... combined with extensive interviews with adult children of divorce whose parents also agreed to be interviewed AND adult children of intact marriages whose parents also agreed to be interviewed.

It was fascinating percentage-wise how many miserable parents raised healthy/mostly happy kids by staying together... and how many people who pulled off the very amicable divorces still ended up with screwed up kids.

Their overall summary ended up noting that when all is said and done kids are very developmentally/emotionally egocentric for most of childhood, and that psychologically this is healthy and normal, and that therefore they are mostly oblivious to the lack of fulfillment or chronic unhappiness of their parents unless it is extremely severe.

However divorce forces them into a world were they cannot be focused on their own maturing process because their parents two worlds become the ever shifting moving center their universe has to orbit around rather than themselves. Which means they enter adult life not having grown healthily out of that "the world revolves around me" stage, instead they were thrust out of it prematurely and often lack a strong secure sense of self or any feelings of self grounding, along with a host of other issues including tendencies to revert back into the world revolves around me mindset far too often because again they didn't get a chance to mature out of it. All on top of the obvious issues of more to deal with and less safe space/opportunities to learn needed life skills because of dealing with an emotional trauma and a more hectic lifestyle.

Unfortunately all my personal citation and research notes from when I was considering becoming a single mother before my biological clock ran out were lost in my house fire so I don't have the citation information to give you.


Quote:


There may be ways to control for this -- e.g. Amato and Booth attempted to quantify marriages as "high" or "low" in conflict -- but it's not easy.

Quote:
The only exceptions are in situations were the children are being severely abused AND/OR watching their mother be severely abused. And then it is a case of choosing which kind of damage to let them take, the divorce is still damaging, but remaining is usually much more damaging.


I'm pretty sure that's an exaggeration. In Amato and Booth's study, for example, fully 1/3 of divorces were from "high conflict" marriages and average outcomes for kids in those divorces were better than for kids in intact "high conflict" marriages. That category included many non-abusive situations.


I think we would need to compare definitions of severe abuse vs high conflict.

Emotional/verbal abuse can be severe, I wasn't limiting abuse to physical.

So I suspect "high conflict" often has quite a bit of cross correlation with severe abuse.

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Meerkat wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
Meerkat wrote:
Actually a great many scientific studies, now that we have had enough years of easy divorce to have data to analyze, have shown that divorce almost always damages kids... even a bad and unhappy marriage is better for the KIDS than divorce. There are many theories floating about as to why... and if you actually care I might try to find some of my old posts where I links some of that data.


I'd be curious to see some of those studies. This seems like an extremely difficult type of question to answer empirically, since isolating effects is pretty much impossible.


The best one I read used statistics of outcomes... aka how the kids did upon adulthood in critical functioning areas... combined with extensive interviews with adult children of divorce whose parents also agreed to be interviewed AND adult children of intact marriages whose parents also agreed to be interviewed.

It was fascinating percentage-wise how many miserable parents raised healthy/mostly happy kids by staying together... and how many people who pulled off the very amicable divorces still ended up with screwed up kids.

Here's a decent article that counters your claim: Scientific American

Quote:
These findings suggest that only 15 percent of adult children of divorce experience problems over and above those from stable families. No one knows whether this difference is caused by the divorce itself or by variables, such as poorer parenting, that often accompany a marriage's dissolution.
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The Scientific American article was discussing the two longest term studies on children of divorce which reached very different conclusions, likely based on disparate methodologies:

http://www.mediate.com/articles/wintereditorial.cfm

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