Divorce Rates Since the 1950s Review

Marriage is the union of two hearts. It legally binds people together and these people who are married may not marry somebody else even if they are separated. So what happens if someone married wants to remarry? The husband and wife, to be able to get married to another person, should undergo a legal separation called divorce. This is a way of dissolving a legal marriage that permits both persons to marry another person again. Divorce could include a recognition that the marriage has already failed and the wife or the husband does not want to continue with the married life and relationship that they are having. Divorce may not be ideal for a family as it has devastating effects, but some may choose to separate than try to save the marriage over and over again.

This research would help us understand better what divorce is and the ideals of the families in the 1950s and how divorce deviates from these ideals. What are the results of the divorce affecting the family and how was the view about divorce changed? What changes occurred in the law, the social programs, and the services that surround the families? How could a family with divorced parents affect other families and social institutions? With the changes in divorce, how are marriage and union building, family life, and children’s life have changed? These and more will be looked into as we will have a closer look at divorce.

Family life in the 1950s is quite different from what we have right now. The woman is the center of the family. She is the center of the family wherein family members count on her and the society as well. The mother takes care of all the household chores, taking care of the children and her husband as well. She is judged from the neatness of her house to the neatness of her own self. She is to look after the physical and emotional well-being of her family. She is expected to teach good morals to her children teach them proper etiquette and teach her daughter domestic skills, accompany her husband to events such as PTA meetings, while the man/husband would be the breadwinner of the family. They are the ones expected to look for money to sustain the needs of his family. He is also expected to do the household chores involving the outdoor chores such as mowing the lawn, or the repair of a part of the house if needed. He is also expected to help the mother discipline the children.

Divorce may deviate from these ideals of the family in the 1950s. If parents were to divorce the division of labor in the house would be changed. There might be a need for the mother to look for a job to support her children or the father may need another person to take care of his kids. Divorce would really alter the expected life that a family would have in the ’50s and the parents may not be able to do their expected roles in the family.

Divorce rates change as the lifestyle and the culture of the society change. In the 1950s women are very dependent on men when it comes to finances and so men are more in control. As the years pass by where men and women actually have equal rights, with the help of some movements for women, divorce became the answer to the problems that the husband and wife are undergoing. Divorce trends from the 1950s to 1960s were decreasing but from the 1960’s up to the 1980’s divorce rates were increasing with a gradual decrease from the 1980s to the year 2000 (Vanneman).

One problem that may arise after a divorce is child custody. Especially if the child is under deciding age, and both parents want to have custody, this would be a long process that they may be undergoing. What if the child can freely choose? Another effect would be the emotional struggles a child may undergo. The legal custody would be discussed which would include the legal decisions and legal responsibilities for them. Physical custody is also an important thing that would be discussed which is the decision of where the child would live.

The emotional battles after a divorce are difficult. Say for example the divorced parents who are distracted, distressed may find it difficult to provide emotional support and moderate, consistent discipline as they may be emotionally distant and preoccupied they may be either lax on their discipline or they may be harsh (Divorce, 425).

Another is the parental conflicts which may affect the children’s well-being. If children were being used as pawns they may experience emotional struggles that may lead to behavioral problems (Divorce, 426).

Another problem that may arise is the multiple transitions that a family may go through (Divorce, 427). One is the adjustment for a parent leaving the home; some may deal with a new neighborhood or new school. Sometimes, even before the child can recover from a divorce, one of her parents may remarry which would mean adjusting to a new person in the house and a new family.

People’s attitudes toward divorce changed. This is because of the factors that they consider when it comes to considering divorce. One is the cultural change, when one seeks personal fulfillment, one considers divorce as an option if one does not feel fulfilled in with his married life. Another is that, women’s employment opportunities that give her financial independence and with an unhappy marriage, she may opt for a divorce. The decrease in men’s working opportunities which reduced their earning potential which causes marital stress is a reason that one may consider divorce. Who would opt to stay in an unhappy marriage? A lot of factors may have affected one’s views about divorce, but to sum it all, it roots in the happiness and contentment within the married life that helps one consider staying in married life. If one feels unhappy, abused, unfulfilled, they may result in a consideration o divorce. As this was already widely accepted nowadays, it is easy for a person to consider divorce without the fear of what others would say.

When the “no-fault divorce law” was passed, there was a surge of divorces. So by having this kind of law, many already have considered this rather than stay in an unhappy marriage.

As with divorce, there had been a lot of social programs and services that have opened to help the people who were divorced. Personal and family counseling are offered by psychologists so to help prevent a divorce or to help a divorced person cope with the situation. The church offers seminars or family retreats that may help rebuild the family. Support for children was also offered for those children whose parents were divorced. All designed to help the stressed family in the processor prior to divorce.

Divorce may add some problems between the husband and wife. In the process of divorce, a lot of things need to be put into consideration such as alimony, child custody, problems with the division of income from a business, or where the house would go. These are just some of the problems that the persons involved in the divorce may experience. The government already had laws regarding this matter thus it is resolved at the time the divorce is being processed. Some unresolved problems regarding divorce are the emotional stress that the children would go through. The parents may say it can be resolved in due time, but they would never know what the impact it brought to their children.

Divorce had quite an impact on society. Results of divorce may be expected in the children but what is unexpected are the aftereffects of the effects. Say, for example, the effect of divorce on a child is behavioral problems (Divorce, 426), if the child can’t really cope with the divorce of the parents may lead to children’s involvement in crimes. According to Rector (2000) children of divorced parents are increasingly the victims of abuse and neglect which results in exhibiting health, behavioral and emotional problems and which are more involved in crimes and drug abuse, and have higher rates of suicide. This affects society because if there would be an increasing number of divorces chances are there would also be an increasing number of crimes.

As a result of changes in divorce, it may also cause changes in marriage. Say, for example, a person who considers getting married may opt to live together first before really getting married to get away from divorce if ever in the latter part of their life they find out that they cannot live with each other any longer. The sense of marriage would not really be there anymore as people may get afraid of divorce, they might choose not to get married at all.

The family life would really change. Divorce may result in o drastic changes in the family. The relationship between the husband and the wife, would they remain civil for the kids after a divorce? Can they still make-believe that they both care in letting the children have the family they wanted even after a divorce? Although the family may not be the same again, for the sake of the children will they be able to get together just to let their children feel that the roles of the parents would not change even if they are separated.

The effect of divorce on the children would depend on how the parents conditioned the mind of the children. Most divorced parents separate with hurt feelings with each other thus this may affect the children if they see their parents fighting. This would not be a good example that the parents may show their children. As it affects the children’s behavior, it would be up to the parents to explain what they need to explain.

As we see the family lived in the 1950s compared to the present, we may come to a reflection as to which life could be better. The life of the families in the ’50s may be ideal, but are they really happy with their lives? Looking into the lives in the ’50s and today we can really see a big difference. One may consider an ideal family, but if the parents chose to stay together for the sake of the children but every day the children see them fighting, this may cause more devastation on the side of the children. If the parents choose to have a divorce, it may also cause the same devastation. The parents then must consider the children before deciding on a divorce. If parents think that a divorce would be better, they may condition first their children before really going into the process so as not to hurt the feelings of the children that much because at least they will have more time to think it over before the actual divorce really happens. Children who are prepared may accept the decision of the parents more openly, at least they know what their parent’s situation is before they really are into the divorce process. A matter of time should be given to the children, and while the children would adjust there may be a chance of deciding to fix the marriage rather than go to divorce.

Literature Review on Divorce

According to Rector (2000), divorce could cause a weakened child and parent relationship. Divorce may not just affect the parent it directly affects the children as well. If the child is close to both parents, chances are he may get angry with the parent who caused the divorce or the parent who initiated the divorce. This may then cause a problem with their relationship. Rector even cited that mothers who are divorced are less able to give their children emotional support compared to the married mothers. Especially in children who are young when the divorce happened may not have a close relationship with the parent who is less in contact with.

In a study entitled “The Effects of Marriage and Divorce on Families and Children” Berlin (2004) came up with the following conclusions; first is that children who grew up in an intact family do better in a wide range of outcomes compared to the children who grew up with single parents. Children with single parents have higher rates of school dropout, teenage pregnancy, and juvenile delinquency. The second result is that the presence of marital education, family counseling, and related services can improve middle-class couples’ communication and problem-solving skills that may result in a lesser incidence of divorce. Third is that limited evidence is found if the same marital educations services were given to the low-income as they also have their own crisis to face. Forth is that this study aimed to find out what kinds of policies and programs may apply to low-income families to strengthen their marriage and that our national focus should be on the design, implementation, and rigorous evaluation of these initiatives.

This would imply that saving the marriage is an essential part of the life of the families. We can just see how drastic the effects would be if ever a divorce is present. Parents should be aware beforehand of what divorce can bring before they consider it.

Another study found out the following results:


  • Children experiencing the disruption of their parents’ marriages tend to have poorer emotional adjustment, including being more anxious, than children not undergoing this experience.
  • 14% of children with divorced parents needed psychological help in 1987, according to their parents, and 13% reported that their child actually saw a psychiatrist or psychologist in the past, compared to only 6% and 5.5% respectively, for children in two-parent families.
  • Children living with formerly married mothers had a 50% greater risk of having asthma in the preceding 12 months.
  • Children from disrupted families showed an increased risk of accidents, injuries, and poisoning, and elevated scores for health vulnerability in comparison to those living with both biological parents. The predicted risk of injury was about 20% to 30% greater for children from disrupted marriages than for other children. (Rodriguez and Arnold, 1998).

We could just see how divorce may affect the health of the children. This may then be a call to the parents that they must see these effects before they really decide to go into a divorce. Divorce may be a solution to the marital problem but it may not be a good choice when it comes to its effects on the children. Therefore, before a couple would consider a divorce they should try to find ways to fix the marriage first to prevent these effects on the children.


Arnold, Chandler and Rodriguez, Hilda. (1998).”CHILDREN & DIVORCE: A SNAPSHOT”. Web.

Gordon Berlin.(2004).”The Effects of Marriage and Divorce on Families and Children”. Web.


Passalaqua, Carolyn “1950’s History – information, notes” Boomer’s Fifties Teen Idol Magazine. Web.

Vannemann, Reeve.(2002) “Sociology 441 Home Page “. Web.

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