Delaying divorce to save marriages

Washington Post 21 Oct 2011
Conventional wisdom holds that about half of U.S. marriages end in divorce — and that most Americans wish the divorce rate were lower. Still, many are skeptical about whether we can lower the divorce rate without trapping more people in bad marriages. This skepticism is fueled by two common assumptions: Divorce happens only after a long process of misery and conflict; and, once couples file for divorce, they don’t entertain the idea of reconciling. We now know those assumptions are wrong.

Research over the past decade has shown that a major share of divorces (50 to 66 percent, depending on the study) occur between couples who had average happiness and low levels of conflict in the years before the divorce. Contrary to popular belief, only a minority of divorcing couples experience high conflict and abuse during their marriages. Most divorces occur with couples who have drifted apart and handle everyday disagreements poorly. It is these “average” divorces that research shows are the most harmful to children….

William J. Doherty and his team of researchers asked 2,500 divorcing parents in Minnesota who were well along in that process whether they were interested in services to help them reconcile. In at least 10 percent of these divorce cases, both spouses were open to efforts to reconcile — and in another 30 percent, one spouse was interested in reconciliation. Results for couples earlier in the divorce process were even more promising. In other words, a substantial number of today’s divorces may be preventable.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/delaying-divorce-to-save-marriages/2011/10/19/gIQAKh0f1L_story.html

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