For many years I've publicly challenged the widely-held belief that one of two
marriages ends in divorce. It was obviously not true. Some academics incorrectly
calculated this ratio by noting that 1.2 million divorces and 2.4 million marriages were
reported for 1981. The truth finally prevails. A Louis Harris poll now calls the
one-of-two divorce rate a myth. "What was left out is that there are 54 million other
marriages that are going on very nicely. By combining ongoing and new marriages in any
single year, only 2 percent of existing marriages will end in divorce. A number of
academics made a sensational splash out of it." Dr. Lee Salk comments, "This
survey is incredibly important. It tells us that TV's Cosby family is depicting a better
picture of American family life than anything else."
J. Allan Petersen in Homemade, October
More and more people seem to forget Henry Ford's sage advice when asked on his 50th
wedding anniversary for his rule for marital bliss and longevity. He replied, "Just
the same as in the automobile business, stick to one model."
Christian Clippings, p. 27.
Fifty years ago parents were apt to have a lot of kids. Nowadays kids are apt to have a
lot of parents.
Divorced couples in Albuquerque, New Mexico, can take advantage of a new business in
town. The company is called Freedom Rings: Jewelry for the Divorced. Founded by jeweler
and divorcee Lynn Peters, the company makes custom jewelry out of wedding rings. Each
customer at Freedom Rings pays a fee, and the ring-smashing ceremony begins--complete with
champagne and music. Just before the smashing the M.C. says, "We will now release any
remaining ties to your past by transforming your ring--which represents the past--into a
token of your new beginning. Now take the hammer. Stop for a moment to consider the
transformation that is about to begin your new life. Ready? With this swing let freedom
She then uses a four-pound sledgehammer to whack her emblem of love and fidelity into a
shapeless piece of metal. And the ceremony ends. The fact that women are pounding their
wedding rings into pendants and men are grinding theirs into golf ball markers doesn't
surprise me. We've all heard the divorce statistics. But let's focus on the women for a
moment: How many American women stop short of divorce, but would love to make a clean
break from their marriage if it were convenient? How many Christian women feel the same
Brian Peterson, New Man, October, 1994, p. 8.
"Come into the living room, children. We have something we need to tell you."
That's how our parents told us they were not going to be together anymore. After they told
us they were divorcing, I sat under the table and my mind replayed again and again the
words my father said. I didn't know then what it all meant, but I soon learned. After Dad
left, I looked through the drawers where he kept his clothes and found an old sweat shirt
he left behind. I hid it in my room and kept it for years. I would cling to it when I was
lonely for him. My father came back to see us a few times, but his visits became less and
less frequent. Finally his visits stopped completely. I always wondered where he went. I
wondered if he thought about us very much. I hoped that he did. But I guess I'll never
H. Norman Wright, Always Daddy's Girl, 1989, Regal Books,
Item No. 583B in our Love and War man's files is a report on the bequests to his former
wives of the socialite yachtsman Fuller E. Callaway, Jr. It stands as a commentary of the
chances for happiness in multiple marriages. He left $100,000 to his first wife, $10,000
to his second, and $1 to his third.
L.M. Boyd, Spokesman-Review, July 28, 1992.
I thought of how important the strength of a marriage is to children when I saw a quote
by Pete Rose, Jr., recently. The betting scandal his father was in meant little to
He still dwelt on his parents' years-old divorce. His father was remarried with a new
child and another on the way. His mother was tending bar in Cincinnati. Petey is a
better-than-average big league prospect himself, and athletes at that stage in their
careers are usually single-minded and driven. Yet Petey said something like this: "I
would trade whatever future I have in big league baseball to see my parents get back
together." It was as if he hadn't read the papers, didn't know the truth about his
parents' marriage. Pete, Sr. had such an incredible reputation for chasing women, and such
nasty, impossible-to-take-back things had been said by each about the other, that no one
would give two cents for the possibility of any civility, let alone a reconciliation. And
with Pete, Sr., remarried, there's no chance. Yet that comment from little Pete, if he
were my son, would haunt me to my grave.
Jerry Jenkins, Hedges, Wolgemuth &
Hyatt, 1989, p. 128.
Tod had left his wife and children for another woman, but Linda, his wife, refused him
a divorce. She said that she still loved him and that he could still love her. One
morning, after a night of empty sex and not much sleep, he drove to their house and saw
his wife through the window getting the breakfast ready and the children off to school--as
he said, "doing what she had to do to keep their life, her life, my life
intact." He was overcome with a sense of her commitment to holding together a warm
good life. He asked her that day to let him come back, recognizing that she was his very
right, and much beloved wife.
Reader's Digest, August, 1982.
Statistics and Stuff
"Almost half of children of divorces enter adulthood as worried, underachieving,
self-deprecating, and sometimes angry young men and women." reports Judith
Wallerstein, director of the Center for the Family in Transition and author of Second
Chance (Ticknor & Fields, 1988). Her conclusion is drawn from interviews conducted
over a 15 year period with 60 families, mostly white middle class. Other Wallerstein
findings: Three out of five youngsters felt rejected by at least one parent. Half grew up
in settings in which the parents were warring with each other even after the divorce.
Reported in Time, 2/6/89.
In order to uncover the processes that destroy unions, marital researchers study
couples over the course of years, and even decades, and retrace the star-crossed steps of
those who have split up back to their wedding day. What they are discovering is
unsettling. None of the factors one would guess might predict a couple's durability
actually does: not how in love a newlywed couple say they are; how much affection they
exchange; how much they fight or what they fight about. In fact, couples who will endure
and those who won't look remarkably similar in the early days. Yet when psychologists
Cliff Notarius of Catholic University and Howard Markman of the University of Denver
studied newlyweds over the first decade of marriage, they found a very subtle but telling
difference at the beginning of the relationships. Among couples who would ultimately stay
together, 5 out of every 100 comments made about each other were putdowns. Among couples
who would later split, 10 of every 100 comments were insults. That gap magnified over the
following decade, until couples heading downhill were flinging five times as many cruel
and invalidating comments at each other as happy couples. "Hostile putdowns act as
cancerous cells that, if unchecked, erode the relationship over time," says
who with Markman co-authored the new book We Can Work It Out. "In the end,
relentless unremitting negativity takes control and the couple can't get through a week
without major blowups."
U.S. News & World Report, February 21, 1994,
Why do toy makers watch the divorce rate? When it rises, so do toy sales. According to
the analyzers, four parents and eight grandparents tend to compete for children's
affections, so buy toys.
L.M. Boyd, Spokesman Review, March 15, 1993.
A five year study of children of divorced parents in California questions that children
are better off when their parents divorce than when they stay in an unhappy marriage. Many
of the children would have been "content to hobble along in an unhappy marriage and
they did not experience the divorce as a solution to their unhappiness." Most of them
harbored fantasies of a "magical reconciliation." The divorced family is less
adaptive economically, socially, and psychologically to the raising of children than the
Psychology Today, in Homemade, July, 1985.
A study of divorced couples with preschool children shows that after a year of divorce,
60% of men and 73% of women feel they made a mistake and should have tried harder to make
marriage work. People have no idea how much anguish and stress is caused by divorce.
E. Mavis Hetherington in Homemade, October, 1989.
60% of all divorces involve children. Approximately 1,000,000 children each year are
affected by divorce."
Marriage and Family, April, 1980.
75% of divorced people remarry--and 60% of them already have children. If current
trends continue, stepfamilies could outnumber traditional families by the year 2000.
Nazli Baydar, in Homemade, October, 1989.
Divorce rates, from U.S. Census Bureau reports:
1920, 1 divorce per 7 marriages
1940, 1 divorce per 6 marriages
1960 1 divorce per 4 marriages
1972 1 divorce per 3 marriages
1977 1 divorce per 2 marriages
Children from broken homes cause a strikingly disproportionate share of discipline
problems in schools and fare far worse academically than their peers from two-parent
homes, according to an extensive new study. For every two-parent child disciplined, the
study says, teachers took to task three one-parent children. Comparing children from
broken homes to those with both parents, the ratio for dropouts was 9 to 5; for
expulsions, 8 to 1. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the rising divorce rate means 48%
of school children during the next decade will come from one-parent homes.
Chicago Tribune, quoted in His, Nov, 1980.
The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that 6 of 10 women in their 30's will have their first
marriage end in divorce. The problem is charged to changing male-female roles, the massive
entrance of women into the work force and social revolutions in the late 60's.
quoted in Intercessors for America, June, 1986.
Doctor George Crane, M.D., Ph. D., the clinical columnist in newspapers throughout
North America, has calculated that when a married couple are active together in the same
church they have about a 50 times greater chance of avoiding divorce; and that only one in
500 marriages breaks up where there is a family altar. . . Nine out of ten of both sexes
attach maximum priority in life to a happy marriage.
John W. White, What Does It Mean
to be Born Again?
Practice doesn't make perfect. According to studies by the Barna Foundation and the
Census Bureau, people who cohabitate before marriage--that's half of all adults under the
age of 30--are more likely than others to get divorced, and 60 percent of second marriages
eventually split up. With that kind of failure rate, perhaps it's time to stop practicing
and get into the game for good. Marriage is for life.
Break Point with Charles Colson, Vol.
1, No. 6, August 1991.