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The United States of America is a country that is faced by several social issues that are both positive and negative. The family institution is an example of an institution faced with many issues such as divorce.
According to court records, divorce is an act that has been practiced widely in the United States of America since the 1600s and by early 1880, one marriage ended up in divorce out of fourteen to sixteen married couples. According to Kreider and Fields (2001), out of 2.4 million marriages that are celebrated annually, 1.2 million divorces occur yearly in the United States of America. This has left sociologists asking themselves the reason behind the increasing rate of divorce in the American society.
Divorce is defined as dissolution of marriage by the parties involved through a judgment by court of law or accepted customs. Divorce has been identified as a major problem in the United States based on the data obtained by research personnel, organizations, media centre’s and the cases filed and decided by the courts of law.
According to Jennifer Baker, 50% of first marriages, 67 % of second marriages and 74% of third marriages end up in divorce in America. This shows how difficult it is to maintain one’s marriage in the United States due to the significance of marriage held by the Americans (Kreider & Fields, 2001). According to Riley and Glenda (1991), divorce is most common in couples with three or more children, young married couples and couples with low economic status.
Factors Influencing Divorce
There are several factors that influence divorce among couples in the United States of America. Some of the factors include culture, age, and socioeconomic issues among others. Divorce has both its merits and demerits to the couples, the children and the society. Divorce affects children as they may end up losing their communication ability with their opposite sex and it may affect their perception towards marriage (Kelly & Emery, 2003).
The problem of unrealistic expectations is one of the factors influencing divorce in the American society as many spouses do not rely on each other financially. They only rely on each other for sexual gratification, nurturance, affection and understanding for their happiness. In absence of these comforts, one or both of the couples will begin outsourcing the absent ingredients in the marriage thereby leading to divorce.
Socioeconomic status of the spouses is another influencing factor in that marital success is facilitated by education and the income levels of the spouses. Education promotes the effectiveness of communication between couples with easy resolution of their differences. On the other hand, economic hardships generate stress and with increased hardships and disagreements over finances, emotional support between the spouses decreases thereby leading to divorce.
Life course variables are another factors influencing divorce. In a marriage, presence of children and the duration of marriage are incorporated by timing and duration of events. With respect to marriage age, young married couples tend to experience more problems than the couples who married at older ages and for this reason, they have higher chances of divorcing.
Many factors have been cited as the cause of divorce and they include culture, age, and socioeconomic issues among other factors. However, divorce as observed in the United States of America is promoted by the society as a whole and is highly welcomed and appreciated by the society despite the negative effects it has on the family both the couples and the children. Divorce has granted several couples their freedom and burdened others with added responsibilities of raising children on their own.
Kelly, J. B. & Emery, R. E. (2003). Children’s adjustment following divorce: risk and resilience perspective. Family Relations, 52, 352-362.
Kreider, R. M. & Fields, J. M. (2001). Number, timing, and duration of marriages and divorces: Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.
Riley, Glenda. (1991). Divorce: an American tradition. New York, NY: Oxford UP.