Divorce Reasons & Rates, Cultural Impact & Life After Divorce Video

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  • 0:01 Breaking Up
  • 0:46 Divorce Reasons & Rates
  • 2:27 Effects of Divorce
  • 5:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, you will explore the reasons, rates and impacts of divorce, a growing trend across the world. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Breaking Up

Breaking up is never easy to do. It's not you, it's me. We just want different things. I'm in love with your best friend. That one hurts. Breaking up a relationship is hard enough, but when that relationship is a marriage, it becomes even more difficult. A divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. This should not be confused with annulment, which is voiding a marriage as illegitimate. Divorces are actually a relatively modern thing. Since most marriages were officially recognized by the Church, breaking that union was nearly heretical. However, since the rise of more secular, less religious, societies, divorce has grown more common as a way to break up an unhappy marriage.

Divorce Reasons & Rates

Throughout history, divorces often had to have a very specific set of requirements. Two of the most accepted reasons were infidelity and the inability to produce offspring. Some nations, including places like Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Ireland, and Spain, did not actually legally allow divorce until the late 20th century. In today's world, there is not such a burden to prove a reason for divorce. Unhappiness is, legally, a good enough reason. There are several causes that are still amongst the most common. These include infidelity, spousal abuse, lack of emotional support, addictions that put strain on the marriage, and even midlife crises.

In addition to these reasons, there are often other factors that contribute to divorce. Finances are a big one. When couples have money problems, the stress may bring out other issues or make each person feel more alone. Having a spouse that works too much is another common complaint amongst divorcees. Social pressure is another important factor in divorce. If a culture is very accepting of divorce, especially in certain circumstances, there may be a higher rate of divorce than in a culture that is very unforgiving about divorce.

Statistically, the United States has a 53% divorce rate, as of 2011. This is pretty high, but many European nations are in a similar place. Belgium tops that list at 71% of marriages ending in divorce. India, which has a culture that is much less accepting of divorce, has rates as low 1%. This does not necessarily mean that India has more happy marriages than Belgium; it just shows that India has a different cultural attitude about divorce.

Effects of Divorce

A divorce is a stressful, complicated, frustrating thing. It can have many, many difficult consequences for everyone involved. Before we talk about that though, we first need to acknowledge that not all divorce is bad. There are several instances in which divorce may be a positive thing, from cases of domestic violence to genuine unhappiness. This being said, divorce is still stressful and often painful. The impacts of a divorce are often a result of how well it is handled.

The issue of divorce becomes especially tricky when the married couple has children. For many stages of childhood development, a stable environment is critical. Divorce can, obviously, seriously threaten the stability of home life. If parents are often fighting at home, or if a parent attempts to turn the child against the other parent, then the home can become a place of insecurity and fear. Many times, parents do not realize that they are putting their child in the middle of their fights. Divorce is emotionally painful, so it can be easy for parents to lose awareness of how much the child is being affected.

After the divorce, child raising does not get easier. If one parent moves away, the child has less contact with that parent. The stress of constantly moving between the houses of separated parents can result in a serious lack of stability. Psychological studies have shown, without exception, that divorce can seriously impact a child's development. This does not just mean young children. Anyone aged from 1-18 can be seriously psychologically affected by their parents' divorce. Children of a divorce may be much more likely to have relationship problems themselves, a lower sense of happiness, and a greater risk for anxiety and depression throughout their lives.

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