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Divorce refers to a legal process used for dissolving matrimonial bonds between two individuals, thus returning them to their single status and giving them permission to marry again. The legal process associated with divorce mostly includes issues associated with child support and care, spousal maintenance, and division of debt and property (Amato and Previti 603). The divorce rate in the United States is alarmingly high and raises concern for many. With approximately 50 percent of marriages in America are ending up in divorce and court practices that ignore the wellbeing of the involved individuals. The effects of divorce on the couples and children are extremely devastating. As a result, couples have to devise methods to reduce the negative effects of divorce on children. Divorce imposes negative effects on the quality of a family’s life because of the high income needed to pay for two different residences. The lengthy court battles also tend to increase the negative effects and cost of marriage dissolution. In addition, the availability of ample marital assets tends to complicate divorce process and further the cost. Irrespective of the level of difficulty or ease for any couple to engage in divorce, nobody entering a matrimonial union wishes that it ended up in divorce (Amato and Previti 615). Nobody supports the high divorce rate in America, because people are increasingly trying to figure out the reasons for the growing growth rate in the country. An insight to the issue of rising divorce rates require an in depth understanding of the changes that make matrimonial bonds less binding, the shift in expectations that have resulted in fewer individuals entering matrimony and more to leave its domain. This paper argues that marriage should not be dissolved, and more changes have to be created to strengthen and guarantee its survival.
The issue of human needs is a potential cause for increasing divorce rates in America. Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, established the “Hierarchy of Needs”, and illustrated that people have different levels of human needs, which vary in accordance with the importance to individual development, wellbeing and growth. The ““Hierarchy of Needs” ” includes physiological, security, love and belonging and esteem needs. Other components of human needs include the need for self-actualization and experiencing meaning and purpose (Warren n.pag.). Most Americans have the most fundamental physiological needs met, which place them in a position to address their security needs. The point of argument is that, besides income levels, the security needs of most Americans are met, including experiencing public safety. As a result, most American citizens are focusing on their emotional safety and security. In most marriages typified by domestic violence, there is no feeling of emotional security and safety for both spouses and children. This point out that dissolution of most marriages comes from domestic violence. In cases where domestic violence does not affect marriage survival, couples usually embark on the next level of emotional security requirements, which are the most fundamental emotional need to have a sense of emotional safety, such as being free of emotional attack through verbal attacks, condemnation, and partners behaving in a manner that produces emotional insecurity (Warren n.pag.). If this is not the problem in marriage, then there is the likelihood that the human needs in subsequent levels have not been met. The highest needs associated with self-actualization and a sense of purpose will not be fulfilled in the needs beneath them have not been fulfilled. This implies that lack of fulfillment of the highest needs prevents an individual from feeling whole. As a result, people can be happy in a marriage, yet they are not whole at the individual level. The inference from this observation is that a person feels more incomplete as an individual if he/she has more of the “Hierarchy of Needs” unfulfilled. Marriages usually benefit in cases where both spouses have become “whole individuals” before entering marriage; however, marriage also plays an integral role in creating the sense of complete wholeness (Amato and Previti 626). Marriages can survive if less significant needs have not been fulfilled. Love and belonging, security and physiological needs are essential for a marriage to last. Whereas there are marriages that can last in the absence of love between the spouses, this takes place in the presence of appreciation and friendship derived from friends and family members. However, the absence of friendship increases the likelihood that spouses will seek friendship outside the home. This causes extra-marital affairs and weakens the marriage. High rates of divorce in America occur because many married partners believe that infidelity simply indicates that the marriage is not working (Warren n.pag.).
The second factor that can explain the high divorce rates in America entails the flaws found in the institution of marriage. A marriage between immature individuals is less likely to last than a marriage between individuals who are emotionally mature and well adjusted. The fact is that emotional maturity sometimes comes at an early stage in life, implying that marrying while young does not necessarily translate to emotional immaturity and a failed marriage. The fundamental argument is that experience in handling extreme challenges that affect the individual sense of wellbeing increases the survival of a marriage. When couples experience extreme shared difficulties, the partners can abruptly maintain that he/she did not know his/her spouse. This is even true for the case of couples who hold the belief that they shared similar values and were right for each other. The increasing divorce rate is explained by the fact that most people enter a matrimonial union without having knowledge of difficulties that may arise in the future. People usually engage in matrimonial unions without taking into consideration their differences, which only come to limelight in the event of certain difficulties. Marriages fail, because spouses have different ways of coping and fail to discover that matrimony has a rock-solid establishment (Strong, De Vault and Cohen 67).
Diverse factors associated with the American society over the recent times have played an integral role in spiraling divorce rates. A contributing factor is that Americans are increasingly placing emphasis on equality and women’s rights. It is apparent that divorce rates were low when women had not attained financial independence. The United States is a forefront leader in acknowledging that women are essential contributors to the society and that no individual should receive an inferior treatment. This can explain the high rate of divorce in the recent times, because the US has been a precursor in admitting that unhealthy matrimonies and ill-treated spouses are not good for the larger society, individuals and children. Another explanation for high divorce rates is that Americans are increasingly becoming aware of the damage inflicted on children when they are raised in unhealthy families characterized by constant fighting and emptiness between the guardians (Amato and Previti 623). Therefore, dissolution of marriages in the American society can be attributed to the need avoid raising children in unhealthy environments. Besides, the interpersonal factors that contribute towards high divorce rates are socioeconomic variables that increase divorce rates. Spouses with little financial stability experience extra struggles in their marriage, whereas high financial stability imposes a dissimilar set of struggles (Strong, De Vault and Cohen 74). The middle class population is increasingly shrinking, which imposes two significant challenges; individuals moving to an upper socioeconomic status face challenges associated with transition, whereas people moving to a lower socioeconomic status feel threatened.
The increase in cost living costs and job insecurity tends to increase financial struggles among Americans, which in turn threaten the survival of marriage and discourage people from entering marriage. Financial stability challenges imply that children who had family issues could not focus in school. The emotional needs of such children were not fulfilled, implying that such children are worried about the notion of a lasting marriage during their present day adulthood. As a result, most people are embarking on having children without entering in a marriage. This implies that present day adults have less faith in the concept of a lasting marriage. Americans maintain a high standard in terms of quality of life; as a result, they feel that they have an obligation to ensure peace in their lives and that of their children. Most individuals perceive divorce as the best alternative to ensure their children have healthier lives when a marriage leads to homes that are not nurturing (Strong, De Vault and Cohen 75).
State laws play an integral role in promoting divorce and discouraging marriage; for instance, Parental Divorce Reduction Act requires one-year waiting period for the finalization of divorce. In addition, couples are supposed to engage in pre-filling classes to have knowledge of the impacts of divorce on children. States are increasing discouraging marriage, because state laws assume that an unmarried mother is a single parent and requires substantial subsidies. This results in income benefits that are similar to a married status (National Center for Health Statistics 10). A change from cohabitation to marriage leads to a loss in the income benefits. The inference is that states encourage divorce and cohabitation, instead of preserving and promoting marriage.
In conclusion, the dismal rate of divorce in America can be attributed to the flaws in the marriage institution, hierarchy of human needs and numerous factors that typify the American society, which promotes divorce and cohabitation, instead of encouraging marriage. Marriage should be viewed as an esteemed institution in the American society, through which values and commitments should conform. It is evident that the causes of high divorce rates are mainly due to societal changes, implying that the same societal values can be helpful in strengthening the institution of marriage and eliminating the viewpoint that marriage is an outdated ideal.
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