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Bad Economy Leads to Lower Divorce Rate




The decrease in divorce currently reported may be the silver lining in a bad economy.  In a two income family, the financial aspects of divorce may be bruising - in a climate of rising unemployment divorce may cripple both partners for years.  Taking the divorce option off the table is a necessary step for many middle class couples.


For two income families a job loss may mean insurance coverage and monthly bills require keeping the marriage intact - at least for now.  Paying the legal costs of divorce and the money required to establish separate living facilities may be out of reach.  Finding a workable alternative that will preserve the marriage is a common sense response many husbands and wives are choosing today.

In recent history, marriages have become disposable.  Most conflicts between partners focus on emotional needs, boredom, personal fulfillment, or disagreements about spending or raising children.  In bad financial times, these person to person issues are replaced with the need to respond to pressures outside the marriage.

Divorce was rare in previous generations.  That doesn't mean the marriages were happier or the partners more content with each other on a personal, emotional level.  It does reflect the value of the institution of marriage during hard times where a partnership was necessary to the financial survival of both husband and wife.  The key word is "partnership" as marriage in the past was often viewed as two people who combined their skills to create a workable unit that would ensure the family's survival in a difficult environment.

In a booming economy where money flows freely and jobs are easily found, it is easy to focus on emotional needs because the physical needs are being met. In bad economic times the struggle to survive crisis may require marriage partners to work together as they never have before.  Some marriages will emerge stronger and survive long after the crisis is over.

For those families where the marriage is truly broken - where tension and disagreement is a component of daily life - the financial inability to get a divorce will lead to stress, frustration and anger.    Children in such homes will pay a high price for the continuation of such a marriage if partners cannot resolve their differences in a tolerant and respectful way.  The resolution may be to agree to disagree on some topics and to avoid discussion of subjects that lead to arguments.

The best path when divorce is taken off the table is to use open and honest communication to define the marital relationship going forward.  An acceptance of the economic reality, a determination to be civil in daily interaction and a sharing of the responsibilities within the marriage and family can lead to a deeper trust and partnership and to a marriage that survives in the end.  Facing the bad economy as a strong family unit may lead to deciding divorce is not the best option.