Written by John Crouch
America’s leading trend-setters now divorce less and later, and treat divorce more as a failure, not a value-neutral or liberating choice, the New York Times’s Pamela Paul writes in “How Divorce Lost Its Groove” (page ST-1, 6/19/11, published online 6/17/11 as “How Divorce Lost Its Cachet”).
Paul gives several anecdotal examples from Park Slope, Brooklyn, the trendiest neighborhood in America, but backs them up with well-known statistics on the decline of divorce among the college-educated:
“only 11 percent of college-educated Americans divorce within the first 10 years today, compared with almost 37 percent for the rest of the population.”
She makes some astute observations about possible causes: Educated married men today behave better. Marriage a generation ago really could be an enslaving, unpleasant institution. But the children of that generation, who suffered from that generation’s divorces, now see marriage as a hard but worthwhile discipline:
“Among a certain demographic, marriage is viewed as something that, like work-life balance, yoga and locavore cuisine, needs to be continually worked at and improved upon. When Ms. Dolgoff tells others about her divorce, their response, with disquieting frequency, is “Yes, well, marriage is hard” as in, “You knew that getting in.”
“Is this, then, the revenge of the children-of-divorce generation, rebelling against the experiences of their mothers and fathers? When I asked people who divorced in their 20s and 30s while researching my 2002 book, “The Starter Marriage,” about why they divorced with such alacrity, the response was near universal: “I wanted to do it before it was too late — before we had kids.” Whereas their parents were divorce pioneers in the ’70s, unsure of how marital dissolution affected children and letting caution blow in the wind, today’s splitting couples are viscerally aware of how divorce feels to a 7-year-old.“