Husband and wife seeking sex in Booth West Virginia

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I nGovernor Ronald Reagan of California made what he later admitted was one of the biggest mistakes of his political life. Seeking to eliminate the strife and deception often associated with the legal regime of fault-based divorce, Reagan ed the nation's first no-fault divorce bill.

The new law eliminated the need for couples to fabricate spousal wrongdoing in pursuit of a divorce; indeed, one likely reason for Reagan's decision to the bill was that his first wife, Jane Wyman, had unfairly accused him of "mental cruelty" to obtain a divorce in But no-fault divorce also gutted marriage of its legal power to bind husband and wife, allowing one spouse to dissolve a marriage for any reason — or for no reason at all. In the decade and a half that followed, virtually every state in the Union followed California's lead and enacted a no-fault divorce law of its own.

This legal transformation was only one of the more visible s of the divorce revolution then sweeping the United States: From tothe divorce rate more than doubled — from 9. In the years sincehowever, these trends have not continued on straight upward paths, and the story of divorce has grown increasingly complicated. In the case of divorce, as in so many others, the worst consequences of the social revolution of the s and '70s are now felt disproportionately by the poor and less educated, while the wealthy elites who set off these transformations in the first place have managed to reclaim somewhat healthier and more stable habits of married life.

This imbalance leaves our cultural and political elites less well attuned to the magnitude of social dysfunction in much of American society, and leaves the most vulnerable Americans — especially children living in poor and working-class communities — even worse off than they would otherwise be. The divorce revolution of the s and '70s was over-determined. The nearly universal introduction of no-fault divorce helped to open the floodgates, especially because these laws facilitated unilateral divorce and lent moral legitimacy to the dissolution of marriages.

The sexual revolution, too, fueled the marital tumult of the times: Spouses found it easier in the Swinging Seventies to find extramarital partners, and came to have higher, and often unrealistic, expectations of their marital relationships. Increases in women's employment as well as feminist consciousness-raising also did their part to drive up the divorce rate, as wives felt freer in Husband and wife seeking sex in Booth West Virginia late '60s and '70s to leave marriages that were abusive or that they found unsatisfying.

The anti-institutional tenor of the age also meant that churches lost much of their moral authority to reinforce the marital vow. It didn't help that many mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish leaders were caught up in the zeitgeist, and lent explicit or implicit support to the divorce revolution sweeping across American society.

This accomodationist mentality was evident in a pronouncement issued by the United Methodist Church, the largest mainline Protestant denomination in America. The statement read in part:. In marriages where the partners are, even after thoughtful reconsideration and counsel, estranged beyond reconciliation, we recognize divorce and the right of divorced persons to remarry, and express our concern for the needs of the children of such unions.

To this end we encourage an active, accepting, and enabling commitment of the Church and our society to minister to the needs of divorced persons. Most important, the psychological revolution of the late '60s and '70s, which was itself fueled by a post-war prosperity that allowed people to give greater attention to non-material concerns, played a key role in reconfiguring men and women's views of marriage and family life.

Prior to the late s, Americans were more likely to look at marriage and family through the prisms of duty, obligation, and sacrifice. A successful, happy home was one in which intimacy was an important good, but by no means the only one in view.

A decent job, a well-maintained home, mutual spousal aid, child-rearing, and shared religious faith were seen almost universally as the goods that marriage and family life were intended to advance. But the psychological revolution's focus on individual fulfillment and personal growth changed all that. Increasingly, marriage was seen as a vehicle for a self-oriented ethic of romance, intimacy, and fulfillment.

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In this new psychological approach to married life, one's primary obligation Husband and wife seeking sex in Booth West Virginia not to one's family but to one's self; hence, marital success was defined not by successfully meeting obligations to one's spouse and children but by a strong sense of subjective happiness in marriage — usually to be found in and through an intense, emotional relationship with one's spouse. The s marked the period when, for many Americans, a more institutional model of marriage gave way to the "soul-mate model" of marriage. Of course, the soul-mate model was much more likely to lead couples to divorce court than was the earlier institutional model of marriage.

Now, those who felt they were in unfulfilling marriages also felt obligated to divorce in order to honor the newly widespread ethic of expressive individualism. As social historian Barbara Dafoe Whitehead has observed of this period, "divorce was not only an individual right but also a psychological resource. The dissolution of marriage offered the chance to make oneself over from the inside out, to refurbish and express the inner self, and to acquire certain valuable psychological assets and competencies, such as initiative, assertiveness, and a stronger and better self-image.

But what about the children? In the older, institutional model of marriage, parents were supposed to stick together for their sake. The view was that divorce could leave an indelible emotional scar on children, and would also harm their social and economic future. Yet under the new soul-mate model of marriage, divorce could be an opportunity for growth not only for adults but also for their offspring. The view was that divorce could protect the emotional welfare of children by allowing their parents to leave marriages in which they felt unhappy.

Inas Whitehead points out in her book The Divorce Cultureabout half of American women agreed with the idea that "when there are children in the family parents should stay together even if they don't get along. At the height of the divorce revolution in the s, many scholars, therapists, and journalists served as enablers of this kind of thinking.

These elites argued that children were resilient in the face of divorce; that children could easily find male role models to replace absent fathers; and that children would be happier if their parents were able to leave unhappy marriages.

Inone prominent scholar wrote in the Journal of Divorce that divorce even held "growth potential" for mothers, as they could enjoy "increased personal autonomy, a new sense of competence and control, [and the] development of better relationships with [their] children.

Thus, by the time the s came to a close, many Americans — rich and poor alike — had jettisoned the institutional model of married life that prioritized the welfare of children, and which sought to discourage divorce in all but the most dire of circumstances. Instead, they embraced the soul-mate model of married life, which prioritized the emotional welfare of adults and gave moral permission to divorce for virtually any reason. Thirty years later, the myth of the good divorce has not stood up well in the face of sustained social scientific inquiry — especially when one considers the welfare of children exposed to their parents' divorces.

Sinceabout 1 million children per year have seen their parents divorce — and children who are exposed to divorce are two to three times more likely than their peers in intact marriages to suffer from serious social or psychological pathologies. Research also indicates that remarriage is no salve for children wounded by divorce.

Indeed, as sociologist Andrew Cherlin notes in his important new book, The Marriage-Go-Round"children whose parents have remarried do not have higher levels of well-being than children in lone-parent families. Often, the establishment of a step-family in yet another move forrequiring adjustment to a new caretaker and new step-siblings — all of which can be difficult for children, who tend to thrive on stability.

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The divorce revolution's collective consequences for children are striking. Taking into both divorce and non-marital childbearing, sociologist Paul Amato estimates that if the United States enjoyed the same level of family stability today as it did inthe nation would havefewer children repeating grades, 1. Skeptics confronted with this kind of research often argue that it is unfair to compare children of divorce to children from intact, married households.

They contend that it is the conflict that precedes the divorce, rather than the divorce itself, that is likely to be particularly traumatic for children. Amato's work suggests that the skeptics have a point: In cases where children are exposed to high levels of conflict — like domestic violence or screaming matches between parents — they do seem to do better if their parents part. But more than two-thirds of all parental divorces do not involve such highly conflicted marriages. And "unfortunately, these are the very divorces that are most likely to be stressful for children," as Amato and Alan Booth, his colleague at Penn State University, point out.

In the wake of their parents' divorce, children are also likely to experience a family move, marked declines in their family income, a stressed-out single mother, and substantial periods of paternal absence — all factors that put them at risk. In other words, the clear majority of divorces involving children in America are not in the best interests of the children. Not surprisingly, the effects of divorce on adults are more ambiguous.

Husband and wife seeking sex in Booth West Virginia who initiated a divorce are especially likely to report that they are flourishing afterward, or are at least doing just fine. Spouses who were unwilling parties to a unilateral divorce, however, tend to do less well. And the ill effects of divorce for adults tend to fall disproportionately on the shoulders of fathers. Since approximately two-thirds of divorces are legally initiated by women, men are more likely than women to be divorced against their will.

In many cases, these men have not engaged in egregious marital misconduct such as abuse, adultery, or substance abuse. They feel mistreated by their ex-wives and by state courts that no longer take into marital "fault" when making determinations about child custody, child support, and the division of marital property. Yet in the wake of a divorce, these men will nevertheless often lose their homes, a substantial share of their monthly incomes, and regular contact with their children.

For these men, and for women caught in similar circumstances, the sting of an unjust divorce can lead to downward emotional spirals, difficulties at work, and serious deteriorations in the quality of their relationships with their children. Looking beyond the direct effects of divorce on adults and children, it is also important to note the ways in which widespread divorce has eroded the institution of marriage — particularly, its assault on the quality, prevalence, and stability of marriage in American life. In the s, proponents of easy divorce argued that the ready availability of divorce would boost the quality of married life, as abused, unfulfilled, or otherwise unhappy spouses were allowed to leave their marriages.

Had they been correct, we would expect to see that Americans' reports of marital quality had improved during and after the s. Instead, marital quality fell during the '70s and early '80s.

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So marital quality dropped even as divorce rates were reaching record highs. What happened? It appears that average marriages suffered during this time, as widespread divorce undermined ordinary couples' faith in marital permanency and their ability to invest financially and emotionally in their marriages — ultimately casting clouds of doubt over their relationships. For instance, one study by economist Betsey Stevenson found that investments in marital partnerships declined in the wake of no-fault divorce laws.

Ironically, then, the widespread availability of easy divorce not only enabled "bad" marriages to be weeded out, but also made it more difficult for "good" marriages to take root and flourish. Second, marriage rates have fallen and cohabitation rates have surged in the wake of the divorce revolution, as men and women's faith in marriage has been shaken.

Yet at the same time, the of cohabiting couples increased fourteen-fold — fromto more than 6. And because cohabiting unions are much less stable than marriages, the vast majority of the children born to cohabiting couples will see their parents break up by the time they turn A recent Bowling Green State University study of the motives for cohabitation found that young men and women who choose to cohabit are seeking alternatives to marriage and ways of testing a relationship to see if it might be safely transformed into a marriage — with both rationales clearly shaped by a fear of divorce.

One young man told the researchers that living together allows you to "get to know the person and their habits before you get married. So that way, you won't have to get divorced. My own research confirms the connection between divorce and cohabitation in America. Thus divorce has played a key role in reducing marriage and increasing cohabitation, which now exists as a viable competitor to marriage in the organization of sex, intimacy, childbearing, and even child-rearing.

Third, the divorce revolution has contributed to an intergenerational cycle of divorce. Children of divorce who marry other children of divorce are especially likely to end up divorced, according to Wolfinger's work. Of course, the reason children of divorce — especially children of low-conflict divorce — are more likely to end their marriages is precisely that they have often learned all the wrong lessons about trust, commitment, mutual sacrifice, and fidelity from their parents.

Clearly, the divorce revolution of the s and '70s left a poisonous legacy. But what has Husband and wife seeking sex in Booth West Virginia since? Where do we stand today on the question of marriage and divorce? A survey of the landscape presents a decidedly mixed portrait of contemporary married life in America.

The good news is that, on the whole, divorce has declined since and marital happiness has largely stabilized. The divorce rate fell from a historic high of

Husband and wife seeking sex in Booth West Virginia

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