The Divorce Train to Lonelyville (in Some Circles) - FamilyEducation

The Divorce Train to Lonelyville (in Some Circles)

June 23,2011

Divorce rates are dropping among the upper middle class. Good news, right?

A recent study by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia found that only 11 percent of college-educated Americans divorce within the first 10 years of marriage, compared with almost 37 percent for the rest of the population. And, overall, divorce has been on the decline since the 1980s.

So who's suffering from these seemingly positive new stats? The college-educated women who do end up getting divorced and don't know another soul who has been through it.

The New York Times recently examined their plight: the affluent Brooklyn mom who has become an outcast in her social circle because of her (shhhhh) divorce, the Massachusetts professor who felt like "the ultimate bad mom" when she and her husband resorted to separating, and all the women in progressive circles who suddenly felt unsupported by their feminist "open-minded" friends when they split from their spouse...

One woman interviewed said she feels like she's wearing a scarlet letter now that she's divorced. While divorce shouldn't be glamorized, it also shouldn't be tarnishing. How sad for these women (and their children, who no doubt experience tough times being one of just a couple of children of divorce in their class or circle of friends).

Divorce has become untrendy for many reasons -- and one of the biggest is because of how popular it was in the '70s. Many of today's parents felt how it was to be a child of a broken marriage and don't want that for their kids, no matter what. 

Also, people are marrying later these days (the NY Times also recently examined 20 somethings delaying true adulthood). So men know how to cook and contribute more to the household -- and both partners have usually gotten their itch for independence or craziness out of their system before marriage.

But some people are averting divorce for other reasons... it's expensive and they've chosen to stick together through the Great Recession, and it may cause a domino effect around them (studies show that divorce can actually be contagious in close groups -- a la Tamra and Vicki, if you watch Real Housewives of Orange County).

Divorce is still common overall. Indeed -- one of's most consistently popular articles is "How Do You Know When Your Marriage Is Over?".

Do you think people in a miserable marriage should avoid divorce at all costs? Or are these outcast women in the upper-middle class smart to buck the trend in their social circle and do what's best for them?