How has your experience with divorce affected your attitudes toward marriage?

Second and third marriages are more likely than first marriages to end in divorce. And according to the Gallup Poll, more Americans than ever consider divorce morally acceptable. How has your experience with divorce affected your attitudes toward marriage?

  • Despite the numerous challenges, I took my vows of marriage seriously for eleven years. For me divorce was not an option. When my former spouse told me that she wanted to end our marriage I was shocked. I worked to resolve but it was clear she wanted a change, so I didn’t fight her. Now, I have a very hard time imagining making that leap with someone. I feel like I would need to be “100% sure”, and I know that that is very unlikely. You can never be “100%” sure.

  • Jeremy

    as the divorce rate in the 1970s gave way toward the many single parent households. As a child of parents who did not get married, I experienced growing up with having 2 happy parents. I would not trade that for anything.

    Jeremy,

    Hudson, WI

  • Wendy

    I am a 45 year old woman. My parents were divorced when I was a baby. The pain of my father leaving his family for another woman & ‘happiness’ are still there today. This situation was clear to my husband when we married & when we had our children. No one else will ever love a child like the two parents that brought them in the world.

    We have had our ups and downs–brushes with infidelity and unhappiness, but at the end of the day, we are both in it together for the long haul. We love each other and our kids and we can do it. Our kids are just that important to us!

  • Vanessa

    My parents’ divorce was incredibly acrimonious, and hard my sibilings and me. It did not taint my idealistic view of marriage; on the contrary, I think it was a roadmap to follow, showing me the importance of carefully chosing a spouse who is compatible, and to keep communication open at all times. My marriage is stronger because of the divorce I lived through.

  • Eric

    My parents were divorced before I can remember and I don’t remember my father. Once children are involved your personal happiness is the sacrifice you may have to pay. You should then always have the child’s happiness and interest in the fore front. That is my rock to help get through the high and low tides that is marriage.

    Eric

    Rochester

  • Jonathan

    Wow Christopher, my story sounds exactly like yours!

    Now I cannot imagine marriage, cannot even imagine having children! Yes children are SO MUCH hard work (I was a stay at home dad working nights). But I had a bigot of a Ramsey County Judge who decided that despite shared physical custody, me being chronically hungry, laid-off and practically unemployed, and my ex hiding half her income from the IRS and the Court, she circumvented the rules to keep child support high so my ex-wife could buy a house. I see children as a huge risk: won’t the mother leave sometime in the next decade, and use the courts to force an even larger financial burden?

    My relationships suffer, sex life as well, as I am so impacted by the hunger and financial drain, and so distrusting of the system.

    Most sickening, I wonder why I did not fight the divorce and simply separate, then start new relationships elsewhere: would have been a lot cheaper!

  • Noel

    My parents divorced when I was 9 in 1979. It has effected the way I view relationships. My mother has been married 3 times and my father twice. As a result of the multiple marriages in my family, I believe anybody that wants to get married should including Gays. The heterosexual’s of the USA have messed up Marriage so much that I do not see why Gays should not be able to get marry. Heterosexuals are worried about the values of marriage…well the heterosexuals have messed it up…give the Gays a chance!

  • Scott

    My marriage ended after a battle with cancer, job loss, career change, house sale/purchase and remodel….all within the course of 3 years. This of course unearthed real problems in the foundation of the marriage, which really came down to communication. We were not good at it.

    The coup de grâce of the relationship was my ex-wife (then wife) telling me she had an STD while we were driving to a pharmacy to pickup her prescription. She indicated that I should tell whomever I was sleeping with that she probably had the STD too. When I said that I had never cheated, her reaction was that it must have happened in the last year and she hadn’t been with anyone else that year. She moved out a month later…

    Enter ‘Divorce’ – I took a large majority of the responsibility and financial burden while she moved out and started fresh and new. The negotiation of assets, etc. was handled between us with no mediation. In the end, I felt like I “cut a check” to just get out of the situation. It was a gamble at the time but looking back, it was the best decision I could have come to.

    I am now debt free (besides my house), dating a truly wonderful woman and looking ahead. Between all that happened to me (cancer, job loss…divorce) I have found a way to be happier and more excited to take my life further down the path of seeing what this world can bring.

    Life has tragedy and at 32, after all that has happened, I couldn’t see it working out any other way than it has for me.

    I am excited to wake up in the morning again.

    Cheers!

  • Lucy

    I’ve been through two divorces, now. Though I am with a wonderful man who is the partner I always wanted, I don’t think I want to get married again. He says he doesn’t think we would divorce, and I agree. Still, who gets married thinking they will eventually part ways?

  • Kirk

    Thankfully I had no direct experience with divorce growing up in small town Iowa in the 70’s and 80’s. For the most part, I was surrounded by strong and healthy marriages including that of my parents.

    This positive reflection of marriage on my life, but particularly in adolescenece, is the primary reason why the right to marry my partner of 11 years is so important to me.

  • Hannah

    Because my parents divorced, my mom never remarried, and a lot of my friends’ parents were divorced, I grew up thinking that it was nearly impossible to have a lifelong marriage. It astounded me to learn that my grandparents had been married for 60 years when my grandfather passed away.

    This made me less likely to work through hard situations, and more likely to feel hopeless with partners. It’s a terrible, self-fulfilling side effect of the divorce trend. Only through personal growth and encountering other long-term partners have I learned to strive for a mature, solid relationship.

  • Lolly

    My parents had me when they were 18, got married when I was 2 and divorced when I was 9. I lived and grew up with my mom and had a very non-existant relationship with my father. Fortunately now, at 25 I have met a wonderful man who I plan to marry and have children with, but still don’t have a relationship with my father because over the last 15 years he still has not fully moved on completely from the divorce and still has so many resentments, especially towards my mom, but also about the way that divorce shaped his view of the world and the way he relates to me.

  • McKenzie

    5 years ago my parents got divorced when I was 21 and my sister 23. We both believe it would have been a million times easier having them divorce when we were kids as opposed to when we became adults. Not only do we really understand what happened since we’re older, but it has made both of our own marriages a struggle. I think we struggle because we’re terribly afraid of our marriages turning out like our parents’ did. We worry that we’re going to get 25 years into it and have it all fall apart. As if we’re constantly walking on egg shells in our own marriages just because of how we’ve seen our parents all fall apart.

    My advice is don’t stay together for the kids. They will adapt. Yes, they’re your children…but they want to live in a HAPPY home. And being their parents, they deserve for you to give them just that.

  • E

    Although I’m an optimist who believes in love-at-first-sight as well as life-long love commitments, I find that I am now very cynical about marriage.

    I’ve been divorced for 2 years, after a 5-year marriage. I’m in a terrific relationship now, at age 40, and not sure that I’ll want to get married again.

    I half-seriously believe that no one should be able to get married until they’re at least 28. When I hear about young people getting married in their early and even mid- 20s, I hate to admit it, but it just makes me feel sad.

    I want to say to them: “Don’t do this Big Life Thing yet! Live with and for yourself for a while! Learn who you are! Learn who you might be! Discover what you really want and need in a life partner!…”

  • Sarah

    I was born in 1975. My parents divorced in 1979, and my mother got her second divorce in 1992 when I was 17. I know it was the best choice for her in both instances. I hate to say it, but I am a bit of a commitment phobe now. I would love to find a life a partner however I am not a huge believer in marraige seeing two break down before I graduated high school.

  • Ben

    My parents divorced when I was a 11, The divorce I dont remember, the way my parents treated each other leading up to the divorce is what has caused the most damage and effect. You only have one life. If you cant live together by all means change, but at the very least be good to each other.

  • I am 27, single. Marriage is a scary word to me. My parents are not divorced, but I spent a good deal of my youth hearing about it, bracing for the fact that it could happen, and watching my childhood friends go through divorces.

    It has effected everyone, and marriage seems to be done simply for tax purposes and presents now, more than any other religious or romantic bond. Modern couples seem to go through the motions of marriage, knowing that divorce is a probability down the road.

  • Sonya

    My parents say they divorced (in 1977) because they got married too young, since that’s what everyone in their generation did. I didn’t consider marriage a “must” and waited a long time to get married and start a family. I think that gave me opportunities for travel, education and work that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.

  • Debra Kelly

    My parents divorced in 1963. My mother remarried and divorced again five years later. Though divorce rates peaked in the late seventies, it was rare in the sixties and carried a very heavy stigma. There were people who would not let their children play with us because my mother was a divorcee.

    I swore it would not happen to me (or my children.) But it takes two to make a marriage and four years ago, after twenty seven years together, my husband and I divorced. Though things are different for kids these day (many of their parents are divorced) I still worry about the effect the divorce will have on my kids. I know how hard it was on me.

  • MayBelle

    I don’t believe in marriage. I don’t plan on ever getting married. I can’t imagine myself in a marriage situation. The idea makes me sick.

    My parents divorced when I was 4. They assume I don’t remember anything about it, but I remember everything – and only the bad (even though I am sure there are good memories from my early life).

    Not only that, but as a five year old I was thrust into the position as the receiver of all of the emotions of the family, with no way to articulate my own. I heard my dad explain his distress. My mom expressed hers. My brother (who was 10) told me his. All told me not to tell anyone what they’d said or felt.

    To this day, I have trouble expressing my emotions and it destroys my romantic relationships. In my mind, expressing emotions tears people apart and if I have one argument with someone, I assume the relationship is over and pull away. I still take responsibilty for my parents’ happiness, which is incredibly stressful

    Divorce is too painful. I will never get married.

  • I’ll never get married because I’ll never allow a Family court judge to make me a womans slave via alimony. I’ll never even cohabitate with a woman because of the ridiculous domestic violence laws, and the even more ridiculous enforcement of those laws. To marry or even live with a woman is to give her absolute control over your freedom and well being. Those terms are not acceptable to me in the least.

  • Trixi

    I married at the age of 24, taking a private vow with my husband that we would work through whatever challenges came our way. We both felt that people gave up on marriage too quickly, we were not going to allow that to happen to us. We took our vows very seriously.

    13 years later, my husband abandoned me for another woman, moving out of state. I fought tooth and nail to save the marriage, but to no avail. I reeled with the shock and pain of it’s loss. Late nights curled up on the cold floor, my cries and screams of ‘why’ echoing in the cavernous darkness of a place once shared by two, now only occupied by one. I suffered deep depression, thoughts of suicide often crossed my mind. I lost an unhealthy amount of weight and my career suffered as my energies were keenly focused on the mess that was my personal life.

    It’s been over 2 years, I’m now engaged to my best friend and have found a partnership with him like I had never experienced the entire 14 years I had spent with my ExH. My fiance comes with a bonus – a daughter from a previous marriage of his own. Neither one of us gave up on love, and we both believe in the joys that come with marriage and look forward to our long journey together that lies ahead. It’s the era of ‘starter marriages’, and we take what we learned from our own ‘starters’ to cultivate a greater union with each other.

  • Both my parents and my husband’s parents divorced in the 80s. As a marriage counselor I am so suprised how many people simply close their eyes to the risk of divorce. When 50% of marriages end in divorce and it only takes one to divorce, how can people be so naive? I believe that coming out of the 70s and 80s, too many people simply believe that there is just nothing you can do- marriage either succeed or fail but they are not “fixable” which is simply not true. Marriages go through many rough spots and often get much better with time and effort.

  • Brian

    Divorce left me as a single father for over a decade, and my son caught in between two homes, two separate lives in two separate communities. What a challenge, when so many public agencies are oriented towards serving mothers and their children (i.e. WIC – Women, Infants, and Children), and not fathers with their children.

  • I learned during my divorce that “till death do us part” does not refer to the spouses themselves. It only refers to the eternal bond between higher-earner spouse’s wallet, and the lower-earner spouse.

    No-fault divorce isn’t as much the culprit here. The real kicker is “no-fault alimony”, where the breadwinning spouse has to go through the indignity of paying for an ex-wife long after she cheated on him, and left him for another man.

    In what other type of contract does the party breaking it gets rewarded, and the party that did nothing wrong gets punished?

  • Omer

    Take a time out and google “Sexual Utopia in Power” by a F Roger Devlin to better understand how marriage degenerated to what it is today.

  • Tom

    My parents divorced when I was four years old, in 1972. There was plenty of fighting and shouting. They both have had second or third divorces.

    I am now 41 years old, and would like to have married by now. I have vowed to myself to marry only once, and not to get divorced. Perhaps my setting the bar for myself so high, and my anxiety about divorce, have to do with my remaining single?

  • Verna Simon

    After my parents divorce, I saw how hard my mother worked to give us a good home and send us to college. I gained a fierce independence, which is a good thing; but I also gained a mistrust of the men in my life. I always felt that marriage would be an exercise in futility because how could I ever find a man who would work as my equal and be someone I could rely upon? Unfortunately, I do feel that I threw away a few good relationships because of this point of view.

  • Colleen

    I listened to the documentary that aired today at noon and based on my own experience with my parents’ divorce almost 30 years ago, I completely agree with the conclusion of the reporter: Divorce is not good for kids, kids aren’t capable of putting adults’ happiness first (nor should they be), and the effects last for many years.

  • Mary

    I’ve found it rare that parents like my husband, his ex-wife, and her husband approach the relationship as parenting partners. We have not found it common for parents to discard marital baggage and personal resentment and develop a relationship based on the best interest of the children. As a result, I look at marriage significantly more carefully. I wish for my friends, family, and especially my children (natural and step) to be very slow to marry.

  • Cynthia

    I was quite moved by today’s coverage by Sasha Aslanian. I wish I had age-appropriate counseling when I was 14 and my parents divorced in 1975. My husband’s parents divorced when he was 15. Most of our aunts and uncles have divorced. Most of our siblings have divorced. My husband and I have been married 20+ years and have talked at times about divorce, but choose again and again to work through our problems so that our children can see that marriage isn’t easy because life isn’t easy. It takes work. It takes communication. It requires my husband and I to decide what is really important to each of us (dealbusters) and to let go of the rest. I suspect our children may not marry because they won’t want to work as hard as their parents have.

  • Anne

    My parents did not divorce, but many of my friends parents did. I sometimes looked at my parents’ rocky relationship and wonder why they didn’t divorce. I took my time finding a husband, and have been happily married for 16 years. All along I’ve felt that it should be harder to get married than it is, it should be harder to have children than it is, there should be more support for marriages and families. Our modern, mechanized, convenienced (and needs two jobs to support) lifestyle has pushed us into isolation in many ways. I think that divorces are necessary, but could be reduced if we look realistically at everything we have learned about people and marriage since the 70’s.

  • Darren

    My folks also divorced when I was 10 years old. Strangely, my circumstances were eerily similar in my divorce. I’m not sure how this will affect my future relationships, but I’m not interested in getting married again.

  • Peter

    My parents’ divorce in 1976 (when I was 6 years old) was the defining event of my life — for better or for worse. While the consequences of that divorce have been pervasive and painful, the lessons that I have learned have served me well. My parents’ divorce has taught me that selfless commitment to the marriage partnership fosters romance and happiness for the individual partners.

  • Nicole

    My parents sperated when I was a toddler and divorced by the time I went to first grade. My childhood is riddled with memories of court battles and nasty fights. Divorce taught me how to manipulate, how to hurt feelings and how NOT to love.

    I went through much of my life, college and professonal career determined not to marry; I rarely dated. But when I met my husband, my heart would not listen to the fears of my mind. Seven years later (2 dogs, 1 cat and a beautful 3 year old daughter) I still have my wonderful husband and a life I am greatful not to have missed out on. I frevrently battle each life challenge with my partner, I refuse to give up even through some very difficult challenges and heartach; divorce is so painful and as a product of that environment I refuse to let that life be a reality for my daughter.

    I think love will find it’s way through your life and it saddens me when I hear of marriages dissolving, those who love eachother now furious with the mention of their spouses name and the refusal to let those who love eachother marry.

  • David

    I’m currently 25, not married and fully capable of raising a family. I have never experienced divorce on a first hand basis, but I will ensure that I never do by never marrying.

  • Brendan

    Getting divorced certainly has changed my view of what marriage currently is.

    The family law system was quietly changed in the 70s and 80s, and these changes effectively changed what marriage is. It is now no longer a committed relationship, but rather a government certified relationship that can be ended at any time by either party for any reason or no reason at all. And huge decisions — access to one’s children, one’s home, one’s assets and earnings — are made in secret courts that keep no transcripts and who openly say that they make no pretense of respecting the constitutional rights of the parties appearing before them.

    All of this is very opaque to people who have not been through the system, as it currently exists. So, yes, getting divorced changed my views about what marriage currently is. The current version of marriage — let’s call it “Marriage 2.0” — is, in my opinion, a disastrous mistake. And I certainly have no interest in ever entering into that mistake again.

  • Anne

    My parents divorced when I was 11, and I am now 21. It was a fairly quiet divorce, neither my older sister nor I knew that this was coming. I definitely agree with the statement “The day my parents got divorced was the day that my childhood ended.”

    I don’t think anyone but my mother is really any happier from the divorce. My mother stayed in the marriage for a long time, very unhappy because she didn’t want my sister and me to be hurt by a divorce. My father finally left to seek his own happiness, something he has yet to find with his other woman.

    I am very hesitant at the thought of ever trusting someone enough to marry them now, as my father never seemed like the sort of man who would carry on an extra-marital affair. I find myself not trusting people very easily.

    Even though I seem fairly fine (I do fine in school, have excellent friends, can hold jobs etc.) I do believe the divorce affected me in a very deep way that I don’t believe will ever really be fixed. I feel selfish for wanting my parents to have stayed together when they weren’t happy, and I feel that they were selfish to split up when it hurt my sister and I so much.

    For me it isn’t really a question of whether I would get married, I certainly would. But I have a hard time seeing myself trusting someone enough to have children with them, because I would never, ever, ever want to put another child through the pain that I went through.

    (ps there is an excellent discussion of divorce politics/law in Joan Williams excellent book “Unbending Gender.” Not light reading, but a really great book.)

  • wow

    Marriage v1.0 in no way foresaw a single, adult, female population that spends its 20s being promiscuous with a succession of thugs that won’t commit to them and then settling with a beta male as 30+ years of age looms, hating him, leaving him and bringing all the power of the state to bear on dispossessing him of his money, property and children.

    Today we have marriage v2.0. Men are avoiding it in droves and our culture will cease to exhist in 70 years as we once knew it. Thank feminism.

  • Ervin Wolff

    My then-wife served me with divorce papers in 1978 and the divorce was final in 1979, with her getting custody of our son and the house we had bought using my GI Bill. I thought then I would re-marry eventually — most divorced people I saw did so. [My ex- did re-marry but was divorced once more within a few years.]

    Anyway, one lovely spring day a year or two post-divorce, I happened to drive along Summit Avenue, past all the big churches. At several of them weddings were taking place, and after I passed the third one that I realized I had shuddered at each one as I passed. I suspected then I was unlikely to re-marry. And I haven’t. My son and his wife have a solid marriage and two great children, so whatever mistakes I made have evidently not been visited upon him.

  • Cobalt

    Men, don’t get married: it will destroy you. 50% of first marriages end in divorce. 70% of divorces are filed by the woman. Women are given custody of children 85% of the time. 50% of fathers never see their kids again. The divorce courts are corrupt and anti-male. Why must a man keep his ex-wife “in the lifestyle to which she is accustomed,” even if he becomes homeless? What happened to the man’s rights? Women are now encouraged by their divorce lawyers to call 911 and say that hubby “pushed” them. The man is arrested, and the wife files an order of protection on him. He’s now out of the house, and can’t see his kids (think VAWA here). Men, if you get married, you stand to lose your wife, kids, house, money, pension, reputation, job, etc. If you want further details, google these 2 names: Dr. Tim Emerson, and H. Beatty Chadwick. MARRIAGE DOESN’T WORK ANYMORE.

  • molly

    well, it looks like there are a lot of problems and a lot of hope out there. my folks divorced when i was seven. on the day the divorce came through he died. he was an alcoholic. many years later, when my mother died, i think she still loved him, she just couldn’t live with the alcoholism. she dated in her younger years and fell in love a few times, but never remarried. myself, i am now divorced after 16 years being married. i guess as a result of not having a dad, i don’t think i ever knew what marriage really was before i married. i guess i still don’t know. but i do know, i love to see people in love and marvel at the beauty of it all. i hope one day it may happen to me. my ex and i get along pretty good. we have two children and despite the two homes, i think we are better parents apart than we ever were together. the children don’t have to live with all the tension that an unhealthy marriage can bring and now they get the best of both worlds and two different lifestyles. so hopefully we all can glean some sort of wisdom from it all. people can disagree and still be friends on some level. would i remarry? i don’t know, i think i’m still kinda sad about it all, but i also think for me, it’s best to be open to possibilities, so i guess we will see…

  • What do I think of marriage? Not much.

    A man needs a wife like a fish needs a bicycle. Be a real man and avoid marriage 2.0.

    You don’t have to experience divorce first-hand to know that marriage is a poor deal for men.

  • reality

    I am a woman on my 2nd VERY HAPPY marriage. My first marriage ended in divorce and I asked my husband for NOTHING. Just the right to live my life and move on without him bothering me in anyway. Women today have become resentful and jealous of men, therefore, as revenge they become vultures and golddiggers and they have given the minor of honest women a bad name. If I were a man with ANY financial possessions, I would be sure to get a very detailed prenuptual agreement or the bad women will use you for status, to get pregnant and then leave you and steal everything that is rightfully yours with the court on their side. These “bad” women have absolutely NO self-respect and when the divorce is complete, they see the miserable reality of being alone and if their ex meets somebody else, they will try to sabatoge the relationship through the children (if there are any) or just make their life difficult by interfering in some way or another Guys, be careful, but remember there are A FEW honest women out there and if you have found one you are very lucky. There are “tons” of women out there, but an honest one is a rarity and a found “treasure” so cherish her and don’t screw it up if you have found her.

  • Giselli

    My parents are still married, 35 years now. It’s truly beautiful. I myself am 29 and going through a divorce. My soon-to-be-ex-husband’s parents are also still married, for about the same amount of time my parents have been. This makes me sad since I think we had good examples of marriage. My parents love eachother and treat eachother with respect. Divorce sucks and I never thought I’d be here right now. In our case, he’s getting everything: the house, cars, etc and I will walk away with nothing because I don’t feel like spending tons of money on a divorce I am not even sure I want (it’s his choice). I do wonder all the time how this will affect my future relationships.

  • John

    I was married for 6 years with two small children. I worked hard and my wife worked also and partied hard with her friends on Friday nights. I stayed home with the kids thinking she worked too and needs to get out. I was on the road a lot and by Friday night was tired and just wanted to relax. She got tired of married life and got a boyfriend. I got served. I can remember Christmas eve at her families house right before this happened. They all knew what she was going to do. I was wondering why she didn’t want me to go to the annual Christmas eve family thing. It was odd but I went anyway. They all acted so strange towards me I went home early that night wondering what in the heck was wrong. What was wrong was they all knew she was filing for divorce and I had no clue what so ever. In the end, because she had no place to live when she moved out, sleeping on her sisters couch, she had no place for the kids so I got custody. A rare thing for me. Down the road she remarried a nice guy, a really bad drunk that beat her a lot. I’ve dated over the years but have remained single for 22 years now and when I come home I can eat a donut or have a beer and whatever I want to do and the weekends are mine to do what I want. I date from time to time, but I’m scarred and will never remarry.