(NY Times Style section) How Divorce Lost Its Groove

Ever since her divorce three years ago, Ms. Thomas said, she has been antisocial, “nervous about what people would say.”

After all, she had gone from Park Slope matron, complete with involved husband (“We had cracked the code of Gen X peer parenthood”) and gut-renovated brownstone, to “a Red Hook divorcée,” she said, remarried with a new baby and two children-of-divorce barely out of preschool. “All of a sudden, this community I’d lived in for 13 years became this spare and mean savannah,” she said.

It was as if, she said, everyone she knew felt bad for her but no one wanted to be near her, either. Even though adultery was not part of the equation, Ms. Thomas said, “I feel like I have a giant letter A on my front and back.”
That a woman who has been divorced should feel such awkwardness and isolation seems more part of a Todd Haynes set piece than a scene from “families come in all shapes and sizes” New York, circa 2011. But divorce statistics, which have followed a steady downward slope since their 1980 peak, reveal another interesting trend: According to a 2010 study by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, only 11 percent of college-educated Americans divorce within the first 10 years today, compared with almost 37 percent for the rest of the population.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Women

6 comments on “(NY Times Style section) How Divorce Lost Its Groove

  1. lostdesert says:

    No one amongst my group is divorced. It is unheard of. We work hard to love and care for each other. It isn’t that hard. Wake up every day, remember that God is sovereign, work as hard as you can to care for your family, neighbors and co-workers, and do it all again tomorrow. As my parents said to me, “…it has ever been thus.”

    Lincoln said you are about as happy as you make your mind up to be. That is what we say in our house every day. Make up your mind to be happy. Fill your world with work and love. That’s all you need.

  2. Boniface says:

    Many Gen X’rs saw through the Baby Boomers weak and self indulgent arguments for divorce.

  3. Kendall Harmon says:

    Have to disagree about the “hard.” It is hard work, but joyful and always full of unpredictable mysteries, surprises and delights along the way.

  4. Uh Clint says:


    I think that you and lostdesert are trying to say the same thing, but in different phrasings. Making a marriage work is not what most people would call “easy”; it requires patience, self-sacrifice, trust, dedication – many virtues which folks whose sense of “self” is overly developed are unwilling to expend their efforts on. I’ve had to work at marriage, including getting counseling – and it’s been a very difficult thing to go through. But the key is belief in the idea that a solemn promise is worth keeping; that just because something requires effort doesn’t mean it needs to be a burden; that sharing one’s life and love with another is a gift which, if it needs to be polished and spruced up from time to time, makes it that much more treasured.

  5. Frances Scott says:

    Reality check. When a young woman finds herself married to a self confessed “Christian” man who is charming in public and abusive in private, is an alcoholic, has severe (but denied) bipolar disorder, is repeatedly unfaithful, points a loaded six-shooter at his wife’s image in the mirror, threatens to “do something” to the brakes of her car that will cause her go over the edge when coming down the pass and thus get rid of her and their four children, it is time to get out of the “marriage”.

    If the good people in her home congregation shun her because they have been duped by the husband’s public face, it is time to get out of that congregation and find one that will accept her and her kids as they are. It is isn’t easy, but the same God who kept her alive in the terrible marriage is able to watch over her and bring her into a good life after divorce. If you haven’t been there and done that, it is all academic.

    Frances S. Scott

  6. Teatime2 says:

    Exactly right, Frances Scott. One doesn’t know what truly goes on behind closed doors. Or, in the words of the Bard, the false face doth hide what the false heart doth know.

    No one should be judged or shunned like that. Things are not always what they appear. In fact, much of the time they’re not, on a variety of fronts. We in Gen. X may have grown up with the spectre of divorce, but many of us also grew up in dysfunctional families having to put on happy faces to the outside world while broken inside because religionists made divorce scandalous. In many cases, it would have been the healthier choice.

    I would suggest that some of those who are doing the “shunning” may have some harsh realities in their own lives that they won’t address and knowing someone who had the courage to break away from the pain brings it home for them.