The postdivorce adjustment cycle


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The postdivorce adjustment cycle
Physical Description:
xix, 358 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Reid, Kevin, 1934-
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Divorce   ( lcsh )
Divorced mothers -- Florida -- Miami-Dade County   ( lcsh )
Remarriage   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1983.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 340-357).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Kevin Reid.
General Note:
General Note:

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Source Institution:
University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 000468631
notis - ACN3317
oclc - 11628227
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Full Text







Copyright 1983


Kevin Reid


Eugene Frank and Mary Alice Monti

and their

Extended Family

Barbara Jean












In the preparation for this study there was nothing out

of the ordinary. Its completion, however, which took three

and a half years, was very difficult because of a baffling

and persistent illness. Because of this circumstance a

greater debt of gratitude is owed to those who had the

patience, courage and goodness to support and encourage me

through its completion.

The greatest debt is owed to Dr. Gerald Leslie, because

of the dual and difficult roles he played with so much

talent and heart. As chairman of my academic committee he

was always an inspiring and guiding light. But more

importantly, it was his understanding and encouragement as

a friend which enabled me to continue with this survey to

its conclusion.

My association with Dr. Joseph Vandiver and Dr. Charles

Frazier was not as close as with Dr. Leslie. But to them a

special debt of gratitude is owed for their unfailing

kindness and encouragement through the years. Dr. John

Henretta was a true friend in need. when I was overwhelmed

with the task of analyzing the data, it was he who guided

every step, and brought it to completion. I wish to thank

all the members of my committee for their guidance,

erudition, and expertise.

My fellow graduate students offered several valuable

suggestions and their unfailing friendship. The staff in

the sociology office was always prompt, efficient and

gracious. To each of then I as very grateful.

It is impossible to thank Dr. Erlinda Collante, M.D.,

adequately, for her professional help, understanding and

encouragement through these difficult years. She is a model


To all my friends I an deeply grateful. However, three

deserve special thanks for their valuable suggestions and

help: Joan Canal, Rose Fulcher, and Frank Reid.









The Research Problem ..
The Postdivorce Adjustent Cycle ...
Goode's Study .. . .
Replication and Updatinq .
Overview of Marriaqe and Divorce in America
The Happy Family Myth .
Divorce in Colonial America .
Divorce in the Early Years of Our Nation
Increase in Number and Bate of Divorce .
Distribution of Divorce in America .
Region . .
Ethnicity and Religion .
Race ... . .
Economic Status . .
Age at Marriage .. .
Summary . .


Introduction .. .
Divorce at the Beginning of the Twentieth
Century . .
The First Divorce Study and its Dual Type
Successors . .
Social Demographic Studies .
Key Findings of Several Surveys .
In-Laws . ..
Visiting Kin . .
Homoganmy . ...

. 16

. 17

. iv

. xiii

. xvii


. .

Homoqamy by age and marital status 28
Homoqamy by Social Status . 29
Homoqamy by Race . 30
Homoqamy by reliqicn .. 31
Detailed Outlines of Studies of Divorce and Its
Consequences . 33
Willard Waller. The Cld Love and the New
(1930/1967) . .. 33
William J. Goode. After Divorce (1956) 34
Method . . 34
Findings . 35
R.W. Weiss. Marital Separation (1975a). .. 38
Spanier and Casto. Adjustment to Divorce
(1979a) . 42
Method . 42
Findings . 43
Conclusions . .43
Kohen et al. Divorced Mothers (1979) 44
Method . 44
Findings . 44
Identified problems 45
Kressel et al. Professional Intervention in
Divorce (1979) . 46
Findings . . 46
Conclusion . 49
Divorce Source cf Trauma . 50
Disruptions in Her Personal Life 54
Disruptions in Her Sex Life 57
Disruptions in Her Social Life 61
Disruptions in Her Financial Status 63
Legal Process Source cf Trauma . 65
The Adversary System . ... 5
No-Fault Divorce .... 69
Trauma Peak Precedes Divorce Decree 71
Creative Divorce . 73
Cycle of Divorce . 74
Cycle of Readjustment . .. .76
Theoretical Framework . 79
Factors in the Divorce Decision and Process 79
Advantages of This Conceptual Framework 83
Hypotheses . ...... 84
Summary . 85


Introduction . .. 87
Research Population . 87
Survey Sample . 88
Data Collection .. 89
Response Rate . 91
Data Analysis o 92
Field experiences .... 93
Summary . . 101



Introduction . .. 103
Background Variables . .. 103
Age . . 103
Race and Country of Birth .. 133
Religion . . 105
Education . 106
Work During Earriae and Now 107
Type of Employment Durinq Marriage and Now 110
Marital Variables . .. 113
Times Divorced .. 113
Lived Together . 114
Age at Marriage . .. 115
Age at Divorce and Length of Marriage 115
Summary .. .. 115


Introduction . ... 117
The Antecedents of Divorce .. ... 117
Who Suggested Divorce? 117
Who Insisted on Divorce? . 118
Serious Consideration of Divorce 119
Marriage Counseling . 120
Final Separation . 120
Divorce Discussions ... 122
Agreements . 123
Approval of the Marriage ... 124
Force and Violence in the Family 127
The Causes of Divorce .. 130
Personal Causes of Divorce . 130
The Main Causes of Divorce 132
The Most Important Causes of Divorce 137
Index of Seriousness of Causes of Divorce 139
Marital Problem Clusters . 142
Interpersonal Relationship 143
Monogamy . . 145
Economic Consumption . 147
Careerism . .. 148
No Love Nor Communication . 149
Summary . . 151


Introduction . 153
Shared Activities During the Marriage .. 153
Going Out Together ......... 154
Shared Recreational Activities 154
Activities and Interests After Marriage Break-
up . . 155


Activities Immediately after the Marriage
Break-up . 156
Respondents' Current Activities and
Interests .. 157
Prejudice and Discrimination Experienced by
Divorced Mothers ... 160
Attitudes Towards Remarriage Of Divorced
Mothers Not Remarried . 161
Dating . . 162
Thinking of c marriage 162
Living Together .. 163
Matchmaking by Parents and Friends 165
Summary . . 165


Introduction . 168
Ill Feelings for Ex-usbnds ........ 169
Communication With Ex-Husband 171
Dating Ex-Husband . 171
Continued Interest in Ex-Husband 172
Respondents' Guilt Feelings . 172
Remarrying Ex-Husbands . 173
Perceived Changes in Ex-Spouses 173
Ex-Husband Was in Love . 174
Respondent Was in Love . 175
Current Feelings of Ex-Spouses for Each Other 175
Ex-Husbands Remarried . 177
Summary . . 178


Introduction . 181
Respondents' Work Records . 182
Respondents' Incomes ... 183
Ex-Husbands' and New Husbands' Incomes 184
Alimony and Child Support .. 185
Average Weekly Financial Resources 1387
Summary . . 193


Introduction . . 195
Number of Offspring . 195
Ages of Offspring . 196
Custody of the Children 197
Visiting Rights . 198
Children's Feelings for their Fathers 199
Child Support ... 200
Working Mothers and Child Care 202
Dating and Child Care 203
Mothers' Lives Restricted by Children .... 203
Mothers without Custody of Children .. 204
Summary . . 205


Introduction . . 207
Former and Present Approaches to the Trauma of
Divorce . . 207
Negative Effects in the Divorce Cycle 211
Incidence of Positive Effects in the Divorce
Cycle .. . 214
Balance of Effects . 215
The Most Important Effects in the Divorce
Cycle . . 221
Index of Most Significant Effects in the
Divorce Cycle .. . 223
The Trauma-Triumph Scale .. 228
Comments .. .. .. .. 234
Summary .. .. . 237

XI. REMARRIAGE .. .. . 240

Introduction . 240
Number of Remarriages . 240
Remarriages Compared with Former Marriages 240
Birthplace of New Husbands ... 242
Education, Occupation, and Income of New
Husbands . 242
The Children of Divorce and Remarriaqe 244
Summary ... ... 2U4


Introduction .. 246
The Causes of Divorce . 247
Lack of Communication . 248
Early Marriage .. 250
Non-support . 251
The Marriage Penalty . 251
Children and Divorce .... 252
Respondents' Assessments of Divorce .. 255
Divorce Was a Trauma .. 255
Divorce Was Both Trauma and Triumph 257
Divorce Was a Triumph . 258
The Postdivorce Adjustment Cycle .. .. 260
Three Special Problem Areas . 261
Cessation of the Pair-Relationship 261
No Recoqaition of Women's Independence and
Talents. .. ........ 262
The Divorcee Seen as Sex-object 264
Respondents' Assessments of Marriage 265
Recommendations Offered . 267
Respondents' Attitudes Towards Survey 267
Divorce: A Source of Growth and Discovery 268


Introduction . .
Methodology . . .
Data Collection . .
Place of data collection .
Data collection mode . .
Population . .
Sample . . .
Background and Selected Marital Variables of
Respondents . .
Age . . .
Age at Marriage . .
Times Divorced . .
Length of Marriage and Age at Divorce .
Race and Country of Birth .
Religion . . .
Church Attendance .. .....
Education, Work Records, and Incomes Compared
Education Attained by Respondents and Their

Ex-Busbands .
Ex-Huskands' Work Records
Ex-Husbands' Incomes .
Respondents' Work Records
Respondents' Incomes .
Alimony and Child Support
The Antecedents of Divorce
Who suggested Divorce? .
Stability of Decision .
Counseling before Divorce .
The Causes of Divorce .
Drinking--Any Mention .
Desertion .
Relatives, Conflict with .
Triangle--Another Woman

* S *
* a

* a a .
* a .
* a a S a

* a a a

The Complex--"Drinking, Gambling, Helling
Around" . .
Miscellaneous . .
Nonsupport . .
Consumption . .
Values--Harmony and Integrity of Values and
Behavior . .
Authority: Dominance over Wife .
Home life: Lack of Affect for Home and
Occupants . .
Personality . .
Additional Causes . .
The Trauma and Triumph of Divorce .
Prejudice and Discrimination .
Remarriage . .
The Children of Divorce .
Child Custody . .
Children's Feelings for their Fathers .








APPENDIX . . 316






1. Country of origin of Ex-Spouses .. 104

2. Religious Affiliation of Ex-Spouses 106

3. Education of Respondents and Their Ex-Husbands 107

4. Employment of Respondents During marriage and Now 109

5. Type of Employment of Ex-Spouses During Marriage 111

6. Type of Employment During Marriage and Now 112

7. Times Divorced and Cohabitation . 114

8. Who First Suggested and Later Insisted on Divorce 119

9. lime of Final Separation . 121

10. Approval and Disapproval of the Marriages 125

11. Incidence of Violence Between Spouses 127

12. Type of Violence Between Spouses .. 128

13. The Main Causes of Divorce in Ranked Order 135

14. The Host Important Causes of Divorce in Ranked
Order . . 138

15. Index of Seriousness of Causes of Divorce 140

16. Recreational Activities Shared by Spouses .. 155

17. Activities and Interests Immediately After Break-up 156

18. Recreational Activities During Marriage and Now 158

19. Activities after Marriage Break-up and Now 159

20. Type or Source of Prejudice and Discrimination 160


21. Feelings Towards Ex-Husbands at Divorce and Now 170

22. Reactions to Husbands' Falling in Love 174

23. Current Feelings of Ex-Spouses for Each Other 176

24. Respondents' Work Records During Marriage and Now 183

25. Weekly Incomes of Ex-Husbands and Present Husbands 184

26. Ex-Husbands Ordered to Pay Alimony and Child
Support . . 186

27. Frequency of Alimony and Child Support Payments 186

28. Respondents' Available Money for Weekly
Expenditures . . 188

29. Assessment of Weekly Money Available .. 188

30. Period of Superior Financial Security 190

31. Offspring of Respondents . 196

32. Ages of Offspring . . 196

33. Parents' Opinions of Child Support Payments 201

34. Mothers' Lives Restricted by Children .. 204

35. Negative and Positive Effects During Divorce Cycle 213

36. The Most Important Effects of the Entire Cycle 222

37. Index of Most Significant Effects Thrcuqh Divorce 224

38. Index For Entire Cycle . 225

39. Bivariate Equation of Level of Trauma-Triumph 232

40. Multiple Regression Equations of Trausa-Triumph 233

41. Stratified Samples of Goode's and Reid's Surveys 271

42. Respondents' Ages at Marriage . .. 272

43. Racial Characteristics . 274

44. Religious Preference/Affiliation of Respondents 275

45. Church Attendance of Respondents . 276

46. Education of Respondents . 278


47. Education of Ex-Husbands . .. 278

48. Nork Records of Ex-Husbands . .. 279

49. Respondents' Work Records During Marriage 281

50. Respondents' Work Records at Data Collection 283

51. Respondents' Earnings at Data Collection 24

52. Respondents' Total Available Honey Per Week Now 285

53. Ex-Husbands' Incomes and Respondents' Total
Finances . . 287

54. Ex-husbands Enjoined to Pay Child Support 289

55. Frequency of Child Support Payments by Ex-Husbands 290

56. Who First Suqqested Divorce? . 291

57. Stability of Decision to Divorce . 291

58. Type of Counselor Consulted . 292

59. The Causes of Divorce . 301

60. Indices of Divorce Trauma and Adjustment 305

61. Comparison of Divorce Trauma Findings .. 309

62. Remarriage and Living Together . 311

63. Distribution of Children . 313

64. Children's Feelings towards Their Fathers 315




1. Personal Causes of Divorce . 131

2. Causes of Divorce and Marital Problem Clusters 143

3. Level of Trauma and Adjustment in Divorce Cycle 220

4. The Divorce Trauma-Triumph Scale . 230

5. Levels of Divorce Trauma In Goode's (1956) Survey 308


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Kevin Reid

August, 1983

Chairman: Gerald R. Leslie
Major Department: Sociology

This survey is a modified replication of William J.

Goode's After Divorce (1956). Our research population was

English-speaking mothers, divorced and living in a large

southern metropolitan area. Drawing from courthouse

records, we used a stratified sample (N=203) of those

divorced 2, 6, 12, and 24 months, to trace the divorce

trauma during the two years after divorce. Questionnaires

were mailed to the subjects who had been traced by phone,

and who had consented to participate. Both descriptive and

inferential statistics were used in analyzing the data.

The respondents' age range was 22-62 years. Three-

quarters of them had been divorced once, and most of the


rest had been divorced twice. The marriages had lasted from

1-40 years. By the time of the survey, 13.30 per cent had

remarried, and 16.73 per cent were cohabiting with men.

These two proportions together equalled the remarrieds in

Goode's study. Divorce brought sharp reductions in the

respondents' financial resources. This was reversed by

remarriage but not by cohabitation.

The data on causes of divorce indicated that the

interpersonal relationship between husband and wife was the

most serious problem, followed by problems associated with

monogamy, economics, and wife's career. Profoundest trauma

occurred at the initial stage where the parties were

seriously considering divorce. Serious trauma continued

through the divorce decree. By two months after the decree,

significant adjustment had occurred, and this level

continued through six months after the divorce. By one year

after divorce another, more significant, adjustment had been

attained. No further adjustment was evident at the two-year

point. The majority of the respondents experienced moderate

trauma, a minority, little or none, and a smaller minority,

profound trauma. Overall, it seems that trauma has abated

since the end of World War II, when Goode collected his


The respondents were predominantly Protestants, Catholics

and Jews, with the remainder belonging to "other" churches,

or to none at all. The least trauma was experienced by Jews


and "others," while the greatest trauma was suffered by

those with the following combination of characteristics.

(1) Prior to the divorces, their husbands fell in love with

other women. (2) They received child support every month.

(3) They received relatively larqe amounts in child support.



The Research Proble

This survey is a study of the divorce adjustment cycle as

it was experienced by a sample of divorced mothers.

Partners involved in divorce are faced with the termination

of their marriages and the need to build a new way of life.

Consequently, the divorce process involves a twofold problem

necessitating two distinct adjustments which overlap to

varying degrees (Spanier and Casto, 1979a:213). The two

adjustments, both of which are quite complex, are as


1. Adjustment to the dissolution of the marriage. This

adjustment contains legal, social and emotional dimensions.

The legal dimension involves dealing with the legal process

and personnel, making property and support settlements and

determining child custody. The social dimension

necessitates informing and coping with individuals in one's

social network, such as family, friends and business and

other acquaintances. The emotional dimension includes feel-

ings about the former spouse, such as love, hate,

ambivalence, regret and guilt; feelings about marriage, such

as regret, failure and bitterness; and feelings about

oneself, such as failure, depression, lowered self-esteem

and self-confidence, and quilt.

2. Adjustment to a new life style. This adjustment

arises out of the need to build a new life. This can

involve finding a new home, living on less money

(typically), managing a budget, getting a job or applyiuq

for welfare. One has to come to grips with single

parenthood or limited visits with the children, depending on

who gets custody. New friends have to be found and new

relationships established. New feelings such as fear,

loneliness, frustration and inadequacy must be adjusted to,

as well as possible positive feelings of freedom, happiness

and increased self-esteem.

The Postdivorce Adjustment Cycle

The divorce adjustment cycle, which is comprised of the

very complex twofold adjustment outlined above, is the

research topic of this study. Specifically, this complex

process of adjustment whereby partners in divorce disenqaqe

from one lifestyle and build a new one will be examined and

traced as it has been experienced by mothers who have been

divorced 2 to 24 months. This enables us to focus directly

on the postdivorce adjustment cycle during the two critical

years following divorce.

Goode's Study

William J. Goode conducted the first such study in the

late 1940s in Detroit to investigate the problems

encountered by mothers in the divorce process. He published

his findings in 1956 in a volume titled After ivorBe.

Goode's study, besides being a major work which has stood

the test of time, was also a very timely one, having been

conducted during the peak of the high postwar divorce rate.

Replication and Updating

This present study attempts to be a modified replication

of Goode's After Divorce (1956). It is appropriate that

another such study be made now in view of the steadily

escalating divorce rate of the past two decades.

During the past quarter century since Goode published his

study, many social changes and movements have developed in

our society, not least amonq them being the increased

incidence of divorce, the women's liberation movement, the

increased participation of women in the workforce, the

phenomenon of living together and no-fault divorce

legislation. This study is a partial replication of Goode's

study with modifications in response to the social situation

of today. Our findings will be compared in detail with


Overview of Marriage and Divorce in aeEica

Ever since the arrival of the first white settlers on the

shores of North America the institution of marriage and the

family has endured and evolved through a multitude of

changes and vicissitudes in the new world. This statement

in no way implies that this institution was non-existent

among the American natives who preceded--and survived--tae

arrival of the settlers. Indeed, in view of the

universality of the family, there is no doubt that it was

already a pervasive institution. Lack of knowledge is the

reason why it is impossible to comment on the forms it took

among the American Indians.

Much has been written on marriage and family life among

the settlers, the colonists, the revolutionists and

royalists, and the hordes of immigrants of the nineteenth

century (Demos, 1970; Greven, 1970; Lockridqe, 1966; Norton,

1971; Hersberg, 1971). The changes accompanying and

following the industrial revolution have received special

attention in the literature; and in the present century two

world wars and the great depression, along with the

urbanization of our population, and the explosion of

technology, have not left marriage and family life

unaffected (Calhoun, 1945; Furstenberg, 1966; Chafe, 1972;

Gordon, 1973). One special area of family life, the black

family, has become an arena for scholarly debate (Frazier,

1939; Fogel and Engerman, 1974; Genovese, 1974).

The Happy Family Myth

Not all that has been written is accurate and objective.

It is now recognized, for instance, that there has been a

strong tendency to idealize the colonial family (Lantz et

al., 1968; Lantz et al., 1973; Seward, 1973). The image of

that family as the locus of deep and enduring happiness for

all its members (and there were always many memberst,

uncomplicated by stress from within, or assaults and

magnetic attractions from without, has been labeled by

William J Goode as "the classical family of Western

nostalgia" (Goode, 1956:3).

James A Michener, in his historical novel, gCesapegAe

(1978), deftly portrays the fragility and vulnerability ot

marriage throughout our entire history as he reviews the

conflicts, horror and violence as well as the heroism and

achievement that accompanied the building of our nation.

From the outset there was disruption of marriages by death

from starvation and disease; then came marauding attacks

from outraged, dispossessed Indians. There were brawls and

lynchings; desertions resulting from poverty--and opulence.

There were new frontiers to be conquered where males far

outnumbered females, which caused many social problems.

There were divergent and conflicting expectations, values,

and norms among the members of a very pluralistic society in

which change and instability were pervasive. These and many

other factors militated against the stability of marriage

and family living and caused much heartbreak and trauma.

Divorce in Colonial America

The Puritans who dominated in Massachusetts were

Calvinists and held that marriage was a civil contract which

could be dissolved by secular authorities, for reasons of

adultery, desertion or cruelty (Cott, 1976:589). Any one of

these reasons sufficed for men to get a divorce. Women were

not entitled to divorce on grounds of adultery alone; only

if it was accompanied by desertion or failure to provide was

the husband's adultery grounds for divorce.

Cott states that while divorce records froa the

seventeenth century are "probably incomplete," there is

evidence that even by then civil authorities had already

granted some divorces. Calhoun (1945) found records of 25

divorces granted in Massachusetts between 1639 and 1682.

Through almost the entire eighteenth century (1692-1786),

only 122 wives and 101 husbands filed 229 divorce petitions

in Massachusetts (six wives petitioned twice) (Cott,


The southern and middle colonies were stricter in their

attitudes towards divorce. There the Church of England held

sway and it did not recognize absolute divorce; it permitted

only separation from bed and board for adultery and cruelty.

But even separations were not granted in the southern

colonies because no church courts were ever established to

grant them.

However, desertions did occur, as the following

indicates. Lantz examined eighteenth century colonial

newspapers for advertisements "renouncing debts or

announcing desertion on the part of a husband or wile"

(Lantz, 1976:12). He found a relatively hiqh incidence of

such advertisements during the preindustrial era.

Furthermore, he reported that "in all states throughout the

entire century it was the husband in more than 95 per cent

of the cases who was responsible for placing the ad, not the

wife. .. It was the husband who stated that his wife left

hi. This picture of female discontent is certainly at

variance with the usual picture of early American women"

(Lantz, 1976:16).

Since desertions took place as a practical recourse,

stringent divorce laws may, historically, have been as

ineffectual in assuring marital stability as Rheinstein

(1971) claimed they have been in modern times. This is not

to suggest that marital instability was as common back then

as it is today. Nomen, in general, lacked the alternative

economic resources that would permit them to obtain rewards

outside of marriage.

Divorce in the Early Years of Our Nation

The last quarter of the eighteenth century saw women

successfully petitioning for divorce on grounds of adultery.

Indeed, more women than men began to petition for divorce on

all grounds (Scanzoni, 1979:25).

Cott (1976:606) argues that the new willingness of male

officials to respond to woaen's grievances was not out of

repugnance for the sexual double standard, but was

politically motivated. Leaders of the infant republic felt

that the "sexual vices" of the English had led to their

general "corruption" and that America must avoid that fate

by insisting on the letter of Puritan morality, that is

sexual fidelity by both partners.

Increase in Number and Rate of Divorce

Statistics on the incidence of divorce in the United

States began to be available around 1860, close to a hundred

years after the birth of the nation. The trend reflected in

these figures shows a steady increase throughout the past

century, with some fluctuations: sharp peaks following war

years, and valleys during economic depressions.

The peaks in the divorce rate following war result in

part from the high number of wartime marriages that are

hurriedly contracted after only short acquaintance. Under

ordinary circumstances marriages between spouses who do not

know each other well are a poor bet. During wartime, this

is made worse by enforced lengthy separation, which can

adversely affect even the best of marriages. Besides, many

lonely spouses are thrown together with persons of the

opposite sex under conditions favorable to extramarital

involvement. Finally, the strains of postwar reunions are

often great and partners may fail to readjust.

The valleys or dips in the divorce rate during

depressions are easily explained in economic terms.

Securing a divorce costs money, and many cannot afford it

during a depression. Further costs are involved in

establishing separate households, division of properties,

and making provision for the children. This financial

hardship prevents many from splitting up, but this is only

temporary. Divorce rates rise rapidly after depressions.

The increase in both the number and rate of divorces is

indicated by the following statistics. In 1860 there were

fever than 8,000 divorces in all of the United States. By

1900 there were 55,000 and in 1974 there were over 950,000

divorces. Part of the increase in numbers results simply

from the growth in population, but part also comes from a

climbing divorce rate as the following figures indicate.

In 1867 the rate was 0.3 divorces per 1,000 population.

By 1920 it had grown to 1.6; in 1946 it ballooned to 4.3

during the postwar peak. After a decline during the

fifties, it began to rise again in the sixties, and by 1974

the rate stood at 4.4, breaking the postwar peak. Since

then, it has inched up steadily: in 1975 it lumped to 4.7;

in 1977 it reached 5.0 and in 1978 it edged up to 5.2

(National Center for Health Statistics, 1979). In 1979 it

increased to 5.4, and in 1980 it subsided to 5.3 (U.S.

Bureau of the Census, 1981).

Today, divorce in our society is a pervasive social

phenomenon, having steadily increased, as indicated, in

numbers and proportion over the past twenty years. In 1956

it was estimated that "the experience of divorce is likely

to occur to one-fifth to one-sixth of the men and women in

this country who live out the average life span" (Goode,

1956: 11). In 1975, that estimate, based on up-to-date

data, was placed at one-third (England and Kunz, 1975;

Glick, 1975). In 1977, the chance of a first marriage

ending in divorce was almost two in five, or 38 per cent, a

rate seven times greater than that of 1900, and twice that

of 1958 (Population Reference Bureau, 1977b).

Divorce is now so widespread in our society it appears

that many divorced persons no longer tend to revert to the

status and behavior of the unmarried, but are drawn together

into a semi-separate social order, and within it have

created the pattern of sexual behavior that meets their

special needs. Hunt and Hunt (1979:134), drawing from a

very large availability sample (N=984), state that, age for

age, the separated and divorced represented in their study

are now at least as sexually active as married people,

whereas in Kinsey's time divorced people were distinctly

less active.

Distribution of Divorce in A aerjca

Region, religion, race, ethnicity, economic status and

age at marriage are among the chief variables influencing

the distribution of divorce in the United States.


Divorce rates vary by region: They are lowest in the

northeast, followed by the northcentral region, then by the

south, and finally, by the west. Growing up on a farm is

associated with greater stability, while couples residing in

large cities are more divorce prone.

Ethnicity and Religion

Ethnic and religious composition of the population are

undoubtedly factors in the regional variation. Instability

is higher among Protestants than among Catholics, and

Catholics are over-represented in northern and eastern

sections of the country (Glick, 1963). The lowest

separation rates are found among Jewish women and the

highest among Episcopalians (Ross and Sawhill, 1975), and

the divorce rate is lowest among Irish Catholics (Mindel and

Habenstein, 1977).

Even more important than religious affiliation is degree

of religious commitment. People who attend church regularly

maintain more stability in marriage than those who do not

(Levinger, 1966; Goode,1968; Bumpass and Sweet, 1972).

These facts suggest that community norms vary

systematically with residential environment, and that social

and religious restraints are important in determining who

divorces and who does not.


The data on divorce rates by race are surprisingly

inadequate. Very fragmentary data on divorce for the period

1939 through 1950 suggest that divorce rates may have been

higher among whites than among blacks until 1942, when the

relationship appears to have been reversed, and the black

rates came to average 20 per cent higher than those of

whites (Leslie, 1982:557). A sample survey of 22,000

households by the Bureau of the Census, 1957, confirmed that

greater percentages of blacks than whites had experienced

divorce. Some 19.8 per cent of nonwhite sales and 19.9 per

cent of females reported that they had experienced a

divorce. The corresponding percentages among whites were

14.1 and 16.7. For 1970 it has been estimated that the

nonwhite divorce rate was about one and a half times higher

than the white rate (Ross and Sawhill, 1975:70).

Economic Status

At least five major studies have documented that there is

generally a negative correlation between socioeconomic

status and divorce rates, regardless of the criterion of


socioeconomic status used (Schroeder, 1939; Kephart, 1955;

Monahan, 1953; Goode, 1956; Hillaan, 1962). Ross and

Savhill (1975) through very careful multivariate analysis in

a longitudinal panel study tried to identify which aspect oL

socioeconomic status is most important. Is it successful

role performance of the husband relative to social

expectation? or is it the constraint imposed by the

accumulation of assets? Or is it a "pure" income effect,

whereby the strains associated with having insufficient

funds break up the marriages?

Using history of unemployment as an indicator of a

husband's inability to provide for his family, they found

this to be more important than anything else. Separation

rates are twice as high among families where the husbands

experienced serious unemployment over the past three years.

They found that it is the husband's performance as a

breadwinner, relative to expectations in his own social

group, that is relevant, rather than absolute level of

income. Surprisingly, being highly successful is just as

destabilizing as being highly unsuccessful. This suggests

that the stability of income may be more important than

level of income in explaining marital stability. They found

no "pure" income effect.

Finally, the greater the family's assets, the less likely

it is that a separation will occur. Perhaps these assets

increase the cost of dissolving a marriage, or possibly

couples who inherit or accumulate wealth are more averse to

taking risks; or perhaps assets act as a buffer offsetting

temporary declines in income.

Another finding that supports the fact that there is no

"pure" income effect comes from the increase of females in

the workforce--aany of them married. Marriages with income

from the wife's work are less stable, and other things held

constant (including husband's income), a one thousand dollar

increase in the wife's earning is associated with a one

percentage point increase in separation rates. When wives

are less financially dependent on their husbands, the

economic benefits of marriage and the cost of separation are

lower for thea.

Age at Mar ijag

Age at marriage is especially critical. A marked decline

is found in the proportion of marriages ending in divorce or

separation as the age at first marriage increases. In

general, those who marry while they are still in their teens

are three or four times as likely to divorce as those who

marry in their mid-twenties (Ross and Sawhill, 1975:40).

Those who marry young or because of premarital pregnancy may

reduce the time spent searching for appropriate, like-minded

mates, and say also marry at a time when their values and

expectations are still undergoing rapid changes, thus

increasing the risk that these values will later diverge

(Levinger, 1966; Hicks and Platt, 1970; Bumpass and Sweet,

1972). Further, those who marry young typically have less

education and more limited occupational opportunities--

variables strongly associated with marital disruption.

Somewhat paradoxically, although marital satisfaction

tends to decline with increasing duration, so too separation

rates decline. On the average, an additional ten years of

marriage reduces the separation rate by three percentage

points. This may be due to the increased investment in the

marriage, the decreased supply of alternative partners, the

shorter time left to enjoy other lifestyles, the inertia of

aging, or various other reasons.


Prior to the industrial revolution in the United States

and the birth of our nation, divorce was not unknown, but

rare. However, there is evidence that some wives deserted,

as did some husbands also. This indicates that marital

stability was not universal prior to the legitimation of

divorce throughout our land. Indeed, also, we may quess

that there was much unhappiness in marriage, painfully

endured because of no escape.

Divorce has become widespread and more accepted,

socially, over the past 25-30 years. However, in spite of

this, divorce continues to be a painful experience for most

parties involved, necessitating difficult and complex




The first part of this chapter, the review of the

literature of divorce is divided into five segments as


1. Divorce at the beginning of the twentieth century.

This will be historical rather than substantive in nature,

indicating the role played by social scientists in allayinq

public alarm over widespread divorce.

2. A brief report on the first study made on divorce and

on the two distinctive, yet parallel types of studies that

grew out of it.

3. An assessment of the social demographic studies on


4. An outline of key findings of several surveys. These

surveys isolated various variables relevant to marital

adjustment and stability. Aaong these variables are in-

laws, kin and homoqamy.

5. A detailed outline of Waller's epochal study (1930)

and its successor, Goode's After Divorce (1956), followed by

similar outlines of recent studies on divorce and its

consequences for the partners involved.

The later parts of this chapter will deal expressly with

the trauma experienced by divorced mothers, the difficulties

arising from the legal process of divorce, and the

postdivorce adjustment cycle. The chapter concludes with a

brief outline of the theoretical framework and hypotheses

for this study.

Divorce _atthe Beginninq of the Twentieth Century

It was during the last two decades of the nineteenth

century that the divorce rate began to increase rapidly. In

1880 there was one divorce for every 21 marriages; in 1900

there was one divorce for every 12 marriages, and in 1909,

one divorce for every nine marriages. This dramatic

increase at the end of the century stimulated widespread and

strong public alarm (O'Neill, 1973:252). Resultant efforts

to arrest the spread of divorce by legal means took two

forms: (1) state campaigns to amend local laws, and (2)

repeated attempts to achieve uniform marriage and divorce

laws either through a constitutional amendment or through

the voluntary enactment of uniform codes by all the states

(Blake, 1962).

These efforts reached their peak in 1906 when President

Theodore Boosevelt was persuaded to request a new census

study of marriage and divorce, and the interest aroused by

this led Governor Pennypacker of Pennsylvania to call a

national conference to draft model uniform legislation on

these subjects. The congress net twice, once in Washinqtou

to appoint committees, and again in Philadelphia to ratify

the proposed statutes. Despite the widespread approval

which met these efforts, few states adopted their model


The twentieth century literature on divorce is both

voluminous and varied. A study by Fred Plog and Paul

Bohannan (1967) (NIHH Grant No. MH06551) of articles indexed

under "Divorce" and 'Alimony" in The Beader'_s guide to

Periodical Literature 1900-1965, reported that the highest

number of articles on these two subjects was published in

1905, and that there has been a general decline in number

since then. Notable has been the steep decline of articles

dealing with religious attitudes toward divorce, and the

increase in articles dealing with postdivorce problems and

children of divorce (Bernard, 1968:301).

"In the earliest years of our society divorces were

generally abhorred by the people, and couples who sought

them were considered to be morally defective" (Sirjamaki,

1353:164), and this is reflected in the literature at the

beginning of this century which focused primarily on

religious attitudes towards divorce. These religious

attitudes were at once both negative and strong. The

Bible's stricter teachings on divorce were quoted and

requoted as the unassailable foundation of opposition to


Although divorce had political, psychological, and other

dimensions, the increase of divorce was usually seen as a

moral and social problem. The opponents of divorce

invariably regarded it as both immoral and antisocial. The

attack hinged on the common belief that divorce destroyed

the family, the foundation of society and civilization.

Felix Adler (1915:15) vent one step further when he insisted

that divorce menaced "the physical and spiritual existence

of the human race." Blame for the divorce situation was

placed on the rising tide of individualism menacing all

progressive societies, while Adler as early as 1890 was

tracing the whole ugly business back to Rousseau's "false

democratic ideals."

Although most leading sociologists believed in divorce,

Charles A. Ellwood did not, and this future president of the

American Sociological Society also attributed divorce to

excessive individualism (Ellwood, 1913). William Graham

Sumner, renowned sociologist, and destined also to become

president like Ellwood, also opposed divorce, on grounds

that it was radically changing the family.

Apart from these two exceptions, social scientists

performed a crucial service in coping with the public's fear

of the social consequences of divorce. The first man of

stature to defend divorce was Carroll W. Wright, U.S.

Commissioner of Labor Statistics and a self trained social

scientist, who, at the National Unitarian Convention in 1891

publicly declared himself for liberal divorce laws. A few

years later he wrote:

The pressure for divorce finds its impetus outside
of laws, outside of our institutions, outside of
our theology; it springs from the rebellion of the
human heart against that slavery which binds in
the cruelest bonds human beings who have by their
haste, their want of wisdca or the intervention of
friends, missed the divine purpose as well as the
civil purpose of marriage. (Bright, 1900:176)

But it was not until 1904 that a leading professionally

trained social scientist joined the fight. George E.

Howard, an eminent historian and sociologist in his massive

A History of Hatrimonial Institutions (1904), and in

subsequent writings, tried to show how the divorce rate was

the product of forces which were dramatically improving

American society, namely, industrialism and urbanization.

Within a few years, Wright and Howard were joined by an

army of social scientists, including most of the leading men

in the field. By 1908, when the American Sociological

Society devoted its third annual meeting to the family, the

majority of the sociological opinion was solidly on the side

of divorce. The high point of the meeting was Howard's

address which he titled: "Is the Freer Granting of Divorce

an Evil?" He was attacked by Samuel Dike and Walter George

Smith, a prominent Catholic lawyer who advocated stricter

divorce laws. But they lost out. Theirs was the faintly

anachronistic rhetoric of a discredited tradition of social

criticism. On Howard's side were E.A. Ross, Elsie Clews

Parsons and James Lichtenberqer, as well as other leading


scientists. As a profession then, sociology was committed

to a positive view of divorce at a time when virtually all

other organized groups in the country were opposed to it.

The First Divorce Study and its Dual Type of successorss

The first major study of divorce in the United States was

that by James P. Lichtenberger (1909). In this work he

traced the rise in the divorce rate from 1867 through 1906.

His study treated divorce as a growing social problem in our

society. He examined divorce in primitive society and

indicated its modification in recent history. He saw as

especially important the transformation of society through

"our unprecedented economic development, our unparalled

achievements in social progress, and our remarkable

transition in ethical and religious views" (Lichtenberqer,

1909:19). Lichtenberger and the sociologists who followed

him concentrated on divorce as a social problem and paid

little or no attention to the aftermath of divorce.

Viewing divorce as a social problem, sociologists

searched eagerly to identify the sources or causes of the

problem. In general, two approaches have been used in

research on the causes of divorce: the psychological and

the sociological approaches. Edmund Berqler (1948) in

Divorce Won't Help represented the most extreme form of the

psychological approach. He insisted that some people are

incapable of sustaining a marital relationship. Divorce and

remarriage mean only replaying the same mistakes over again.

The basic flaw which brought about the divorce could be

remedied only by psychoanalysis. The alleged basic flaw

could range from moderate neurosis to a full-blown

psychosis. So all who were divorced were classified as

neurotics or psychotics.

Lewis Terman and Paul Wallin (1949) developed a similar

school of thought when they introduced the concept of

marital aptitude. Some people, they asserted, are quite

normal in most aspects, but they lack the interests and

aptitude for domesticity. An instrument for measuring

marital aptitude was developed and used. Among the subjects

studied, those who rated low on marital aptitude had a

higher divorce rate than those who rated high.

Both Bergler and Terman looked to the individual for

causes, and found them. By contrast, sociologists following

the cue from Burgess and Cottrell looked for causes in the

relationship itself in what has been called the "team

factor" (Bernard, 1968:13). Hoaogamy and heteroqamy were

among the variables they emphasized.

The two approaches, although quite different, were not

mutually exclusive. Bergler, besides looking at the

individual, looked also at the relationship, but he insisted

that it was impossible for one partner to be normal, because

neurotics had an unerring instinct to seek and find as mates

the neurotics they needed for their own neuroses. Burgess


and Cottrell also looked at the individuals, but from the

perspective of socialization and background variables.

Researchers from both schools were looking for factors which

made some people "divorce-prone"; they just looked for

different things.

Both schools found evidence to support their assertions.

Records showed (and still do) that among the divorced

mortality, morbidity, mental illness and suicide rates were

higher than for the widowed and married. Further evidence

of lack of marital aptitude was found in unsuccessful

remarriages, which seemed to support Berqler's dictum

directly. This kind of research was far from comforting for

the divorced. It increased their sense of personal

inadequacy and failure, and added to the trauma.

The evidence used by Bergler and Terman is now recognized

as flawed. First, it was based on persons currently in the

status of divorce excluding all who were remarried. Second,

in reporting the failures among the remarried, it did not

report the successes among them. Most divorced persons

remarry and consequently are not represented in the

population currently in the divorced status. And although

the divorce rate for remarriages is higher than for first

marriages a majority of remarriages are successful (Bernard,

1956: 108-113). This effectively undercuts the position

held by the psychological school.

By contrast, the explanations given by the sociological

school of thought carried no personal stigma. The marriage

failed because the team was wronq--the partners were teamed

up badly. Given congenial or suitable partners they would

be able to sustain a stable marriage. This stance of the

sociological school of thought has been helpful in

reassuring those going through the pain of divorce.

Besides, it has aided in improving the attitude towards

divorce of society in general thus making the divorced more

easily accepted by society, and the phenomenon of divorce

itself better understood.

Social Demographic Studies

For the family sociologist, the foundation of divorce

research has been the social demographic study. The primary

thrust of these studies has been the examination of such

variables as length of marriage, age at marriage, education,

occupation, residence, religion and race of spouses as

factors relating to the occurrence of divorce. Typical of

post WWII studies of this nature are those by Jacobson

(1950), Ackerman (1963), Bernard (1966), and Bumpass and

Sweet (1972). The findings have been remarkably consistent

and have succeeded in isolating significant variables of

importance, some of which have been outlined in Chapter I,

and others that are to be presented in the next section.

Their usefulness was considerably enhanced by the Bumpass


and Sweet research which made use of multivariate analyses

to shed light on the relative importance of these variables

(Tropf, 1980:2).

Key Findings of Several Surveys


Studies have found that relationships between younq

couples and their parents on both sides are a source of

strain. A brief summary of pertinent findings follows.

Judson T. Landis (1947) studying 409 happily married

couples, found that 10 per cent of them had unsatisfactory

in-law relationships even after 20 years of marriage. John

L. Thomas (1956) studying 7000 broken Roman Catholic

marriages, found that trouble with in-laws was the most

frequent cause of breakup during the first year of marriage.

Evelyn Duvall (1954) studied a national random sample of

5020 people who were married from between a few weeks to

more than 40 years. She found that 75 per cent of her

respondents reported one or more in-law problems. Blood and

Wolfe (1960) in a study of 909 Michigan families reported a

negative correlation between frequency of reported in-law

trouble and duration of marriage. Fifteen per cent reported

in-law trouble during the honeymoon, and the percentage

decreased steadily thereafter.

It would seem that in-law adjustment is a rather

important part of total marital adjustment. Landis (1946)

in his study of 409 couples married for approximately 20

years, found that couples who reported no trouble with in-

laws from the beginning were more likely to report having

very happy marriages: 52 per cent characterized their

marriages as "very happy," and 34 per cent claimed they had

"happy" marriages. Landis and Landis (1968) in a study of

544 couples in the early years of marriage found that 67 per

cent of those who reported excellent adjustment to in-laws,

also reported their marriages to be excellent. Only 18 per

cent of those with in-law trouble reported having very happy


Research indicates that in-law troubles occur mostly

between wives and their mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.

Duvall (1954) found that over one-third of 1337 respondents

said that the mother-in-law relationship was the most

difficult. Ninety per cent of these complaints came from

wives. So it is the husband's mother, rather than the

wife's mother who is the focus of the trouble. Landis and

Landis (1968) had similar findings on mothers-in-law with

the additional information that trouble with sisters-in-law

was the next most frequent, and trouble with fathers-in-law

was relatively rare. Similar results were found by Wallia

(1954) and Thomas (1956).

Komarovsky (1964) in a study of 58 working-class

marriages found, further, that husbands with less than a

high school education have as such difficulty with their

mothers-in-law as their wives do.

So, in summary, it has been found that wives report

mother-in-law trouble most frequently and characterize it as

the most serious in-law trouble. Next comes sister-in-law

trouble, again reported by wives. Rarely do husbands report

in-law trouble, outside those husbands with very little

education. These husbands seen to have as much mother-in-

law trouble as do their wives.

Visiting Kia

Studies by Axelrod (1956), Greer (1956), Bell and Boat

(1957), Blumberg and Bell (1959), and Toneh (1967) found

that about 50 per cent of families see their relatives at

least once a week, and that an additional 25 per cent of

then see them about once a month. Blood (1969) in a study

of 731 married women in Detroit tested for relationships

between frequency of interaction with kin and marital

adjustment. He found that interaction with kin up to once a

week is associated with good adjustment, but more frequent

interaction seems to be detrimental to marital adjustment.


Hundreds of studies have been done on homogamy. They

embrace homogany by age and marital status, social status,

religion, ethnic affiliation, race and a host of other

social and personal characteristics (Leslie, 1982: 400).

The following presents briefly some of the relevant studies

and their findings.

Hoaoqaay by age and marital status. Most Americans marry

young. Further, 75 per cent of all first marriages occur

within three or four years on either side of 21 (Mogey,

1965). Homogasy in age at marriage can be seen in the facts

that brides on the average are 2.5 years younger than their

grooms and in 10 per cent of all cases they are the same


Homoqamy by age holds in all groups that have been

studied. Hollingshead (1951) compared the ages of black and

white couples in first and remarriages. In all four types

and within both races, the correlations were high. Glick

and Landau (1950) verified age homogamy at the various

levels ranging from laborers to professionals.

Further, age is related to whether people are marrying

for the first time or remarrying (Bowerman, 1956). First,

single persons as marriage partners are younger, on the

average, than persons who have been married. Among the

previously married, widows are older than divorcees.

Secondly, as men get older they marry increasingly younger

women. Finally, those who are remarrying do not differ

significantly in the age difference from the mates who are

marrying for the first time.

A number of early studies found age at marriage to be

related to marital happiness, with marriages under 20 being

the most likely to be unhappy (Terman, 1938; Burgess and

Cottrell, 1939; Landis and Landis, 1968). The same patterns


were found between age and divorce rates. Young marriages

are the least stable (Locke, 1951; Monahan, 1953; Landis and

Landis, 1968; Bumpass and Sweet, 1972). The reason for

these patterns lies in the fact that age is related to

emotional and social maturity (Burchinal, 1959b; Bshelman,

1965); those who marry after age 20 are less likely to be

rebelling against their parents, are less likely to be

forced into marriage by pregnancy (Burchinal, 1959a; Bacon,

1974), are less likely to be broken up by in-laws, and

encounter fever financial difficulties than those who are


Homoqany by Social Status. Early studies found mired

evidence of hoaogaay by social status. Burgess and Wallin

(1943) found that 1000 engaged couples tended to choose

partners from social backgrounds similar to their own.

Centers (1949), using a national sample, found that men and

women marry persons from their own occupational level more

than from any other level; however less than 50 per cent do

so. In Connecticut, Hollinqshead (1951) found that men and

women tend to marry individuals from the same class of

residential area and from the same educational level.

However, Hunt (1940) found scant evidence of status homoqamy

in marriages in Massachusetts. Leslie and Richardson (1956)

studied students who married while at college. They found

only a slight tendency towards homoqamy among students who

married an individual they had known at home prior to

college, and none at all among couples who met and married

at college. Coombs (1962) had similar findings at the

University of Utah.

These data suggest that status homoqamy may be declining

with the years, at least in some segments of the population.

This is supported by data on 5442 women from the 1970

National Fertility Study. Using education as the measure of

social status, Bumpass and Sweet (1972) found in this study

that marital disruption rates did not differ significantly

between homogamous and heteroqamous marriages unless tae

differences in background were large. Disruption rates were

highest for college females who had married high school


Hoaogany by Race. The norms against interracial

marriages have been the strongest, and it was not until the

1967 Supreme Court decision that miscegenation ceased to be

unlawful. Perhaps less than one per cent of all marriages

are interracial, but these draw much interest and attention.

Studies by Burma (1952), Golden (1953), and Pavela (1964)

found that couples in interracial marriages tend to be

older, that they may have been married before, and that they

have histories of rejection by parents and their own social


Interracial marriages are widely believed to be doomed to

failure. Studies of war bride marriages (Strauss, 1954),

and black-white marriages by Golden (1953), Pavela (1964)

and Smith (1966) did not bear this out however.

Nevertheless, more recent national data on black-white

marriages indicate that these are more likely to end in

divorce than either hosoqamous black or homogamous white

marriages. These data indicate that 90.00 per cent of the

white marriages and 78.00 per cent of the black marriages

that took place in the 1950s were still intact in 1970,

compared with only 63.00 per cent of the black husband-white

wife marriages, and 47.00 per cent of the white husband-

black wife marriages (Carter and Glick, 1976:414-415).

Homoqaay by religion. Studies of religious homoqamy have

shown wide variation in intermarriage rates. In New York

City, Heiss (1960) found 18 per cent of Jews, 24 per cent of

Catholics, and 34 per cent of Protestants to be

intermarried. Burchinal and Chancellor (1962) found

individual aixed-aarriage rates in Iowa to range trom 9 to

24 per cent. In general, the larger the proportion a

religious group is of the community, the lower the inter-

marriage rate and vice versa. Intermarriage also varies

inversely with the cohesion of the ethnic group.

Intermarriage rates rose in the 1960s and the 70s, partly

due to Pope Paul VI permitting Catholics to get married by

noncatholic ministers, and his dispensing with the promises

the noncatholic traditionally signed, promising to bring up

the children Catholic.

Studies show divorce rates to be lowest among Catholics

and Jews, somewhat higher among Protestants, higher still in

mixed marriages, and highest of all where there is no

religious affiliation (Landis, 1949; Bumpass and Sweet,

1972). Burchinal and Chancellor (1963) produced one of the

more definitive studies of divorce in interfaith marriages,

in the state of Iowa, using data from a seven-year period.

Controlling for age and social status, they partly confirmed

the results of earlier studies, and partly called those

findings into question. They confirmed that the divorce

rate in homogamous Catholic marriages was lower than in

marriages where Catholics were married to Protestants.

However, the differences were considerably reduced. They

concluded that the smaller differences did not justify

generalizations of considerably greater difficulties

awaiting Catholics who marry outside their faith, provided

the person they married belonged to a Protestant

denomination. Further, the researchers discovered that,

while homoqamous Catholic marriages had the highest survival

rate, a number of other homoqamous and mixed marriage types

had survival rates nearly as high. Besides, the data

indicated that the marital survival rates were influenced

more by age at marriage and social status than by the fact

of religious differences. Marital stability was

consistently greater among marriages involving older brides,

and higher SES couples.


Detailed Outlines of Studies of Divorce and Its Conseguences

Willard Waller. The Old Love and the New (1930/1967)

This was a significant work when originally published and

remains important to the present day. This is so, first of

all, because Waller focused on the social-psychological

consequences of divorce for the parties involved, and the

implications these consequences miqht have. Secondly, his

work was a break with the writings on the family that had

preceded it, and that had been in voque, writingss that

still possessed historical and evolutionary preoccupations.

By shifting the inquiry aller was ahead of his time

and anticipated a major development in family sociology

which is current today" (Lantz, 1967:v). Waller focused on

divorce as an event in an individual's life history. He

explored how the status of the divorcee was defined and what

this status involved. He perceived that divorce meant

change, and this in turn implied crisis, disorganization,

and reorganization. He emphasized the persistence of the

habits of married life, and the modifications demanded of

the divorcee to build a new life.

Waller used the case study method. In using this method,

Waller "felt that he would arrive at a better understanding

of the divorcee by an intensive study of a few cases than by

collecting facts about many" (Waller, 1967:316). Thirty-

three cases were included. "Of these perhaps five were

studied with a thoroughness approaching that of the study


which a psychoanalyst aakes. On ten more cases fairly

complete subjective documents were obtained, and a

reasonably good insight into the subjects' minds was .

obtained In the remaining cases incomplete subjective

accounts, or complete narratives were obtained. In

addition there were available a number of psychoanalytic

cases in which divorce was one of the major problems. .

A few more women than men were among those thoroughly

studied" (Baller, 1967:317). Waller's findings will be

discussed and compared later with those of Goode's (1956).

William J. Goode. After Divorce (1956)

For twenty-six years after T_ 0Q14 Love AU the
New appeared no other research on postdivorce
adjustment was reported. Following WWII, however,
the divorce rate rose sharply, and experiences
with personal problems following divorce became
more common. Goode undertook a study of the
adjustment of divorced women in Detroit. Goode
reported that he "assigned two budding librarians
to summarize all the research literature on
postdivorce adjustment. No such body of
work existed, other than Willard Waller's The ld
Love a4d the New." In many respects, Goode's
research was based on Waller's. Since the Goode
investigation in 1956, there has been a slow
growth in the research literature on the aftermath
of divorce. However, Goode's work remains as the
successor to the Waller study. (Farber, 1967:XXI)

Method. In this study Goode investigated 425 divorced

mothers in metropolitan Detroit, who were between the ages

of 20 and 38 years at the time of their divorces. They

were divided into four groups or cohorts by length of time

divorced: those divorced 2, 8, 14 and 26 months. Data were

collected by interviewers who administered a lengthy

questionnaire to each respondent. In addition to examiininq

background and marital variables, he also probed the causes

of divorce and the adjustment process.

Findings. Here we will confine ourselves to a comparison

and discussion of Goode's findings which parallel those of

Waller. In each case a summary of Waller's findings will be

given first, followed by Goode's. Other findings of

Goode's will be dealt with later.

1. Friends. Waller paid such attention to the role of

friends in the postdivorce adjustment. Prior to divorce, he

sugqqested, friends assist in redefining the marital

situation as an intolerable one. Thus, they contribute to

the final decision to end the marriage. After divorce,

friends help relieve ambivalence over the divorce. Goode

found that, in general, the husband's friends were

indifferent towards the divorce, while the wife's friends

generally approved. Hence, Waller's assertion was supported

by the data on women but not on men.

Waller next said that the divorcee frequently breaks

completely with the friends which he/she had during the

marriage, giving two reasons for the break; (a) the

divorcee is an oddity amonq married couples, (b) the

divorcee must reorganize his/her sex life, and seeks the

company of those in a similar marital condition. This

breaking away from friends fosters feelings of alienation


and isolation, and so multiplies the problems of personal

adjustment. Goode found partial support for this assertion.

He found that regardless of religion, race, or age at

divorce, about half of the divorced women retained their

former friends. This tendency was strongest amonq the

upper-class. However, when the divorcee was in love with

another man prior to the divorce, she tended to drop her old

friends. Further, he found that his respondents made new

friends. Of those not remarried about one in six mentioned

new friends, and almost one-third of all the women said they

retained their old friends and made new ones.

2. Sex Adjustment. Smaller perceived that in divorce,

the "sex impulse is reduced to its crudest form robbed

of all glamor and romance and perhaps purposefully cheapened

and degraded" (Maller, 1967:56). One way to cheapen sex is

to become promiscuous. Goode did not question his

respondents specifically about their sex problems, but he

gave a sex interpretation to this question: "Have you ever

been in a social situation in which you felt someone thought

less of you when he or she found out that you were

divorced?" Thirty per cent said "yes"; these respondents

were mostly under 24 years of age. Goode interpreted this

difference to indicate a greater risk of the younger women

being regarded as "loose" although they actually were not.

3. Economic Adjustment. Waller contended that the

female faces greater economic hardships than the male. He


saw the woman as needing money immediately without time or

resources to invest in a long-term career, "aud worried

about how she is going to live." Goode found that those

women who were unable to work full-time were experiencing

financial difficulties. About half of his respondents who

had not yet remarried were living on reduced incomes.

Remarried women, however, were considerably better off

financially than they had been in the former marriages.

Consistent with Waller's view, Goode's findings suqqest taat

for women, divorce involves downward mobility, but this can

be reversed by remarriage.

4. Role of the Divorcee. Waller suggested that the

divorcee who has been "cast away" by her spouse, first of

all regards herself as a failure, and secondly, tries to

reassert control over her former spouse. To Waller, divorce

was not merely dropping a mate; it was a crisis, evoking

profound changes in life organization. Goode found that the

trauma of divorce was greatest among those women whose

husbands took the initiative in divorce. Overall, he found

that the divorcees most prone to trauma or crisis were those

who did not want the divorce, those over 30 years of age,

those who had been married 10 years or more, and those uno

felt ambivalent about divorce.

5. Reaarriage. Waller speculated that remarriages could

go either way. He believed that an unhappy marriage which

ends in divorce may have disastrous personality effects,

preventing successful adjustment in reaarriaqe. Further,

lingering feelings for the former mate, coupled with fear of

losing the present mate, would also be sources of problems

in adjustment. On the other hand, he believed that the

experience gained in the former marriage could produce

insight, tolerance and "progressive liberation from .

infantile love objects." Besides, when the first marriage

represented a rebellion against a parent, or was "so bad

that any comparison must inevitably favor the second,"

remarriage might entail fewer problems (Waller 1967:159).

Goode found that about 90 per cent of his remarried

respondents regarded the remarriage as much better than the

first marriage. This was possibly misleading. Many of

these women may have been still in the honeymoon phase, or

perhaps they felt they had to make good claims for their

remarriage. We now know that while remarriages seem to be

almost as satisfactory as first marriages, they are not as

stable as first marriages. In 1978, the proportion of first

marriages ending in divorce was 38 per cent, and for

remarriages it was 44 per cent (Population Beference Bureau,


B.W. Weiss. Marital Separation (1975a).

This study is strictly qualitative in nature and focuses

primarily on the emotional impact of marital separation.

Weiss derived his data from his Seminars for the Separated


during the three years beqinninq in 1971. The seminars were

established by the Harvard Laboratory of Community

Psychiatry where recently divorced persons (both male and

female) came for an educational program of eight evening

meetings. The meetings were half instructional and half

group discussion. It was mostly people with college

educations who took part. About 150 recently separated

individuals participated in the program.

Several participants said that even though their

marriages had become unhappy, thoughts of ending them made

them anxious, and even terrified. This may have resulted

from the fact that their marriages afforded them security if

not happiness.

Others reported that after the separation, occasionally

they felt impelled by anxiety to reestablish contact witL

their former spouses. Most participants continued to feel

drawn to the spouses even when a new satisfactory

relationship had been established. The exceptions were

mostly those who left their marriages for new relationships

which they already had established.

The marital bond that keeps drawing ex-spouses back to

each other seems unrelated to liking, admiration or respect.

Even those who disparaged their spouses felt drawn to them.

This bond may be likened to the imprinting that takes place

in the animal world, and in its persistence resembles the

attachment bond of children to their parents described by

Bowlby (1969).


The loss of attachment can be seen as the primary cause

of the "separation distress" syndrome described by Parkes

(1972). It involves thinking more of the lest figure, and

an urge to reestablish contact, as well as anger and quilt

over the loss. Present also is an "alarm reaction"

including hyperalertness, great restlessness and feelings of

fear and panic. Difficulties in sleeping and loss of

appetite ensue.

In contrast, some experienced euphoria and greater self-

confidence and self-esteem. They may become more active and

outgoing than they had been. However, typically this

euphoria alternated with distress.

Separation distress which involves pining for the ex-

spouse fades with time. If a new attachment has not been

established at this point, the distress is replaced by

loneliness which does not revolve around any lost figure,

but feeds on a vaguely developed image of a satisfying

relationship that would allay the loneliness. This

loneliness often carries the feeling that there is nobody in

the world who could provide that relationship, and

frequently the lonely person feels an emptiness inside.

Since loss of attachment causes pain, anger is a natural

reaction, and this is directed against the former spouse

regardless of which one initiated the separation.

Separating spouses may be angry with each other not only

because they blame the other for their distresses, but also


because of genuine conflicts of interest over division of

property, support payments, custody of children and

visitation. Anger toward the ex-spouse can become intense

and lead to murderous fantasies. Some feel their anger is

justified, and may be willing to act to hurt the other. But

others feel the anger as alien to their genuine selves, and

try to disown it. Yet, even in the case of the most

enraged, suppression of positive feelings rarely seems


Because of the continued attachment and simultaneous

anger, intense ambivalence sets in. Manaqinq this

ambivalence becomes a problem. Some suppress the positive

feelings, others repress the negative feelings; and some

manage by alternating the feelings they express, or by

compartmentalizing their feelings.

Ambivalence makes separated individuals uncomfortable

with any resolution of their separation. Reconciliation may

result not only in relief at the ending of separation

distress, but also in dismay at the return of an

unsatisfactory relationship. The decision to proceed with

divorce may also have mixed implications: gratification

over a painful relationship being terminated, but also

sorrow that the spouse will be irretrievably lost. This

ambivalence probably is the reason why lawyers who

specialize in divorce work sometimes complain that their

clients do not seem to know their own minds (O'Gorman,


S.anier and Casto. _Adjustment to Divorge (iL99a)

The authors point out at the outset that, with few

exceptions (e.g. Goode, 1956), the data dealing with the

problems spouses have in adjusting to separation and divorce

are drawn from clinical case studies, and research on

persons who attend discussions and other counseling programs

(e.g. Weiss, 1975a). In this study, four hypotheses were

examined pertaining to (1) the effects of lingering

attachment to the former spouse, (2) the degree of social

interaction outside the home, (3) the role of dating

relationships, and (4) the relative effects of sudden and

unexpected separations.

method. The research, conducted in the fall of 1976,

consisted of lengthy, unstructured interviews with 50

individuals who had filed for divorce within the preceding

two-year period. Their names were secured from the public

records in Centre County, Pennsylvania. Contact by phone

was established with 37 per cent of the persons whose names

were drawn, Of those contacted, 61 per cent agreed to be

interviewed, comprising 28 females and 22 sales, all white,

from the working, middle and upper-middle classes. The aqe

range was 21 to 65 years, with a mean of 36 years. Thirty-

two of the respondents were divorced at the time of the

interview, and the remaining 18 were separated.


findings. (1) Most respondents expressed resentment over

their experiences with the legal system. (2) The children

were the catalysts for some of the major adjustment

problems. (3) Friends, relatives and acquaintances were

generally supportive. (4) The degree of initial emotional

upset was a function of how unexpected the separation was,

and of the respondent being opposed to it. (5) Economic

adjustment was the only area in which sex differences were

found. The large majority of men reported they were at

least as well off financially after the separation, but for

the women, the opposite was true. (6) Respondents reported

growing away from close friends, especially when these

friends were shared by the other spouses. (7) There was a

strong positive correlation between participation in

heterosexual relationships and successful adjustment.

Conclusions. Creating a new life style appears to be

more crucial to overall adjustment than successfully copiaq

with the dissolution of the marriage. Painful reactions to

marital dissolution, such as feelings of regret, attachment,

and bitterness towards the spouse, actually may increase

over time through failure to create new relationships. Some

respondents who reported few problems immediately after

separation and who, in some cases, reported that separation

had made them feel free, excited, or eager about life for

the first time in years, were at the time of the interview

very despondent and showing signs of separation anxiety. In

every instance, these respondents were having major

economic or social difficulties. The difficulties that

individuals encounter may vary greatly, depending on the

circumstances surrounding the dissolution of their

marriages, the support they receive as they make the

transition, and the nature of the postmarriage lifestyle.

Children, parents, friends, former spouses, representatives

of the legal system, and dating partners all play important

roles in the lives of the recently separated.

Kohen et al. Divorced Mothers (1979)

Method. This study was conducted to uncover the costs

and benefits of being a divorced mother. The research,

conducted in 1974, consisted of lengthy open-ended

interviews with 30 Boston-area mothers who had at least one

child under 16 years of age living with them, and who had

been divorced or separated from one to five years.

Potential respondents were located through institutional

sources, such as youth agencies and organizations for single

parents. Quotas were imposed to assure that no group was

over-represented in relation to the Boston-area population.

Findings. Even though respondents undergoing the crisis

during the first year immediately following separation were

eliminated, the findings in major areas such as changes in

income, proportion wishing to remarry, and types of problems

encountered, were consistent with those of Goode's (1956).


Identified problems. (1) The predivorce average income

reported was $12,500. This fell to $6,100 after the divorce

or separation. This resulted from (a) little or no support

from the husband, and (t) job and sex discrimination. In

1974 women working full-time throughout the year earned

only 57 per cent of that earned by their sale counterparts

(Sawhill,1975). (2) The divorced mother, while legally head

of the house, is not socially legitimated for this role,

with resulting intrusions and difficulties from and with

authorities and others. (3) In family life, the

responsibilities formerly shouldered by both parents now

must be borne all alone. (4) They were conscious of the

stigma of being "fair game" sexually.

The respondents reported the following advantages. (1)

They were better off with their lower income, because they

had full control of it. (2) Without a husband, the

organization of life was often easier, and the expenditure

of energy less. (3) Gaining control over "social time" is

like gaining control over money: they have less, but they

can decide how to spend it (Stein, 1976). (4) They reported

improved self-concept resulting from successfully mastering

decision-making and new tasks.


Kressel et al. Professional Interventioiorc (179)

The goal of this study was to identify the primary

obstacles to a constructive divorcing process and to shed

light on the psychological and interpersonal experience of

those who divorce. Of particular interest was the role of

the professional in helping to produce a cooperative climate

between the spouses, and to secure an acceptable divorce

agreement. This review will be restricted to the

latter--the role of the professional. The research

consisted of lengthy, unstructured interviews with 59

professionals, including 21 psychotherapists, 21 clergy, and

17 lawyers. It was an exploratory study with no attempt at

systematic sampling. Instead, highly expert practitioners

were located through professional organizations, personal

contacts, and referrals by previous respondents.

Findings. (1) There is much similarity in the roles

assumed by psychotherapists and clergy in divorce. Mainly,

they help with the difficult decision of whether to divorce

or not, and, less commonly, help negotiate the terms of the

settlement. When people seek help with a marital problem,

they are more likely to approach a clergyman than a

psychotherapist (Gurin, Veroff, and Feld, 1960). The

clergy's work occurs either as part of congregational

responsibilities, or in connection with religious courts of

divorce or annulment. (2) Lawyers are most frequently

consulted by the divorcee because divorce is the end of one


legal contract and the beginning of another. (3) Although

the lawyers' role in divorce is the most clearly structured,

leading one to expect highest consensus among them, just

the opposite was found. A high level of consensus was

found among therapists and clergy, while lawyers commonly

differed on important issues. (4) This difference among

attorneys resulted from the stresses inherent in their work,

and they used various mechanisms, such as the following, to

cope with the stresses. (a) Act as Undertaker. This

metaphor rests on two assumptions. First, the job is

essentially thankless and messy, and second, the clients are

in a state of emotional "derangement." The words of one

respondent were characteristic: "I represent

psychotic people. All my clients are neurotic, some of them

actually psychotic. If mine aren't, the other side is."

(b) Act as Mechanic. This is a pragmatic, technically

oriented stance. It assumes that clients are capable of

knowing what they want. (c) Act as Mediator. This is

oriented toward negotiating a compromise, with emphasis on

cooperation among all parties. (d) Act as Social Worker.

This stance centers around a concern for the clients'

postdivorce adjustment and overall social welfare. (e) Act

as Therapist. This involves active acceptance of the fact

that the client is in a state of emotional turmoil. (i) Act

as Moral Agent. Here, neutrality is rejected by the

attorney, and he assumes that he should not hesitate to use

his sense of right and wrong. This is widely used when

children are involved.

Four major goals are shared by all three professional

groups. (1) Establish a working alliance. Here again the

lawyers are different. They are likely to be partisans in

the conflict, whereas therapists and clergy are likely to

aspire to the role of mediator. (2) Diagnosis. The first

and most important question here for all three groups is:

Is this marriage truly headed for divorce? (3) Improve the

emotional climate. Here all three groups appeal to self-

interest, the children, and to the norms of fair-play.

However, here the lawyers were narrower in their

orientation than the others. ,(4) Decision-making and

planning. First the decision must be made whether to

divorce or not. If the decision is yes, then they endeavor

to reach a fair settlement. According to the respondents,

typically only one partner has definitively decided to

divorce, and the other has not. Here the professionals must

"orchestrate the motivation to divorce" (Kressel and Deutch,

1977:424), based on the fundamental assumption that a

constructive divorce process is unlikely if both partners

are not ready to end the marriage.

The clergy differed from the other two groups in this

area of decision making and planning on three salient

points. (a) An emphasis on the concrete and practical. The

clergy emphasized the importance of providing immediate


monetary assistance when necessary, and of referring their

clients to therapists and lawyers when indicated. (b)

Accomplishing the religious divorce or annulment. Judaism

and Roman Catholicism have highly formalized divorce and

annulment procedures. Fcr the rabbis and Catholic priests,

involvement in such procedures is the most distinctive and

difficult aspect of their role in divorce. (c) A hiqhtened

concern with postdivorce adjustment. The most organized

efforts to cope with the postdivorce adjustment period were

described by priests and lay respondents working in centers

for divorced Catholics. In these centers, crisis

intervention services, similar to the model established by

Alcoholics Anonymous, were offered: a reference group of

similar others, frequent social contacts, an accepting

religious community, limited individual counseling, group

activities for children, religious group rituals, and

workshops on special problems (e.g. dating, sex and family


Conclusion. The lawyer-run adversary system is not

working. Perhaps the most likely alternative is some form

of mediation akin to that employed in labor-management


Divorce Source of Trauaa

The widespread general belief that divorce tends to be

a painful, crisis producing, traumatic experience for the

partners is widely substantiated in the literature (Goode,

1949, 1956; Hetherinqton et al., 1976a, 1976b; Spanier and

Casto, 1979a, 1979b; Weiss, 1975a; Hunt and Hunt, 1979).

The earliest social analyst of this phenomenon was Willard

Waller who, using the analytic approach on a small number of

persons, identified the personal ill effects of divorce as

shock, ambivalence to oneself and one's partner, and much

frustration and unhappiness. Involved too, of course, is

the disruption of established sexual patterns on both the

physical and emotional levels (Waller, 1930/ 1967). His

conclusion was that there are many aspects and states of

reorganization which the divorcee must qo through at this

crucial period. They are (1) reorqanizinq one's lovelife,

(2) mending of wounded pride, (3) rechannelinq of habits,

(4) reorganizing of social relationships, (5) facing

economic consequences, and (6) ending rebellion.

Generally divorce is a traumatic psychological,

emotional, and social experience which adversely affects the

individuals involved. Landis and Landis (1968) added that

the divorce process involves pain and qrief over the loss

of one's spouse, especially when one does not want the

divorce to take place. Burqess (1926) and Christenseu

(1950) stated that some find divorce to be a shattering


experience, while others do not find it to be so disturbing,

and others find relief.

Haqerty found in his study on divorce at Brigham Younq

University that "many had felt strong trauma in the early

divorce period. With some this feeling decreased .

during the divorce process and then increased again during

the postdivorce readjustment period" (Haqerty, 1961:49).

The most systematic field study to date was conducted by

Goode (1956). He found that about 37 per cent of the

respondents showed little increase in difficulties after

divorce. However, in about two-thirds of the cases, there

was definite evidence of a significant increase in personal


Albrecht (1980) in a study conducted in eight Rocky

Mountain states had similar findings among his 200 female

respondents. Twenty-seven per cent characterized their

divorce experience as traumatic or a nightmare, and an

additional 40 per cent reported it as stressful. Only a

mere 13 per cent described it as relatively painless. The

following factors were identified as contributing to the

trauma. (1) The legal process itself (see Spanier and

Anderson, 1979). (2) The pain and anguish felt by the

children. (3) Financial strain. (4) A feeling of personal

failure. This last factor was the most widespread, having

been mentioned by one-third of the respondents.

Most people regard marriage as a permanent commitment,

and despite the prevalence of divorce, when marriage breaks

up, this is seen by the partners as a personal failure, and

this feeling seems to be a key factor in the trauma and

stress felt by divorced persons.

Eliot (1948) expressed the view that since divorce is

generally a traumatic experience for the individual

involved, full recovery is unusual. This view regarding

recovery is no longer tenable. Recent studies indicate that

recovery from the trauma of separation and divorce seems to

take from two to four years, with the average being closer

to four than to two (Weiss, 1975a:236; Hunt and Hunt,

1979:58). Understandably, those who have had an ongoing

extramarital relationship, or who developed a new

relationship immediately after separation, suffer least

trauma (Baschke, 1976; Hunt and Hunt, 1979).

Separation and divorce cause major changes in one's way

of life, and all major changes cause stress (Holmes and

Rahe, 1967; Selye, 1976). It is no coincidence that the

separated and the divorced have higher rates of suicide,

accidents, and physical illnesses than married people do

(Glick, 1976a:16; Gove, 1973). Further, separated women and

men are 8 and 12 times as likely, respectively, as married

women and men to be hospitalized for mental illness.

These statistics along with those from many other sources

(see Bloom et al., 1979) show that the link between marital


disruption and a great variety of illnesses and disorders is

stronger for men than for women. However, the evidence was

rather unsystematic until recent studies attempted to deal

more systematically with the effects of marital disruption

on both parents and children. Perhaps that partly accounts

for the fact that most of the literature on the problems

faced by the separated and divorced focuses on divorced

women, rather than men.

Apparently the assumption was that marital disruption is

more stressful for women than men. Further, in the

overwhelming majority of cases, the divorcing mothers

receive custody of the children, thereby being burdened wit1

further responsibility, and, possibly increased stress.

Another partial explanation may be found in the increased

interest in the chanqinq roles of women. Lastly,

undoubtedly this emphasis on women results from the

precedent set in Goode's study. Beplication of his work is

the prime reason why this present study focuses exclusively

on the reports of divorced mothers.

For the mother who goes through a divorce, life is often

turned upside down. Fondest dreams, hopes and ideals ace

shattered. Intimate bonds with another are broken,

relationships with children are changed, friendship patterns

are disrupted, new living arrangements must be made,

employment must be found, often for the first time, and on

and on. Separation and divorce cause significant

disruptions in four major spheres of the divorcee's life,

namely the personal, sexual, social and economic.

Disruptions in Her Personal Life

The literature contains numerous reports indicating that

the newly divorced are likely to suffer some amount oi

personal disorganization, anxiety, unhappiness, loneliness,

low work efficiency, increased drinking, and other personal

problems (Gurin, Veroff and Feld, 1960; Rose and Price-

Bonham, 1973; Weiss, 1976a, 1976b). Goode found that the

divorce was preceded by a long period of conflict and

serious decision-making lasting an average ot two years.

The protracted conflict effectively destroyed the love

relationship between the spouses, and replaced it with

unhappiness, anxiety, and a sense of failure. His

respondents reported serious causes for the conflict and

eventual divorce, among which were the following: (1) 33

per cent complained of nonsupport, (2) 22 per cent,

excessive dominance by the husband, (3) 30 per cent,

drinking, (4) 29 per cent, personality problems, (5) 25 per

cent, poor home life, (6) 16 per cent, involvement witn

other women. They were so affected by the long and painful

experience that they suffered from poorer health, greater

loneliness, difficulties with sleep, work and eating, and

having fewer friends during the divorce process and for

lengthy periods afterwards.


Bohannan (1970) by contrasting the enqaqement and wedding

on the one hand, with divorce on the other, offers keen

insight into the pain and rejection of divorce. One or the

reasons it feels so good to be engaged and newly married is

the rewarding sensation that, out of the whole world you

have been selected. One of the reasons that divorce feels

so awful is that you have been de-selected. It punishes

almost as much as the engagement and wedding are rewarding.

Blanck and Blanck (1968) pointed out that since marriage

is a primary relationship involving more facets of an

individual's personality than perhaps any other adult

relationship, its termination represents the loss of a qraat

number of satisfactions.

If the divorcee is ccamitted to her religion, probably

the religious dimension of her personal life will be

seriously disrupted. In many cases the wedding took place

in church with a minister, rabbi or priest presiding, and

"until death doth us part" was an integral part of the

marriage vows. These vows reenforce the personal conviction

that the marriage would bring happiness and fulfillment.

Breaking these vows can be a source of stress for her.

Further, she is likely to experience feelings of quilt and

failure as she interacts with her friends at church because

of her awareness that she has failed to uphold in her

marriage the ideals of her church, regardless of what

denomination she belongs to. Churches are strong proponents


of the sanctity and permanence of marriage, and in face of

this, her quilt and failure feelings may lead to alienation

from her church and her friends there. This is most likely

if she is Catholic because of the following.

In general, Protestants and Jews tend to be tolerant and

accepting of divorce. The latter emphasize that a hate-

filled marriage has lost the sanctity of the Law, and

divorce should be permitted in such a case. However, before

divorce is assented to, the rabbi is obliged to use all

means available through counseling and other aids to remedy

the situation and save the marriage (Gordis, 1967). The

Catholic Church is strongly opposed to divorce ante faqctua

and strongly asserts this position in its laws, official

documents and teachings. Besides, it makes widespread use

of Pre-Cana and Cana conferences, Marriage Encounter, and

other group sessions to reenforce its position and to

promote marital fidelity and fulfillment. For these reasons

the active Catholic who gets a divorce will probably

experience a stronger sense of alienation from her church

and its members than the non-Catholic divorcee. While it is

true that the Catholic Church's attitude towards divorce

post factum is one of tolerance and guarded sympathy, and

that much can be done by the local priest for the

reconciliation of the divorcee (Salter, 1969), it is quite

likely that many such remain unreconciled with the church.

Disruptions in Her Sex Life

Sexual relations between husband and wife are regarded as

a vital part of marriage:

our counselors, clinicians, and clergy join with
the layman in emphasizing that coital
relationships with orgasm for both partners are a
vital and necessary part of life--a goal to be
achieved and maintained. This message is repeated
ad infinitua in marriage manuals and articles in
popular magazines. (Gebhard, 1970:90)

But with divorce that is all changed. Established sex

patterns with her husband are of course disrupted on both

the physical and emotional levels. Some individuals

suppress or repress all sexual desire, and this may be

accompanied by bitterness towards all males. By contrast,

some become relatively promiscuous partly to avenge their

spouses, or to reassure themselves that they are still

desirable. In cases where one's self-image is shattered

promiscuity may arise from the desire to punish and degrade

oneself further (Waller, 1930/1967; Kirkpatrick, 1963).

This is substantiated by Hunt and Hunt (1979). They

reported that 7 or 8 per cent of formerly married womea

became refuserss," neither seeking nor accepting sexual

involvements for several years after separation and divorce,

and sometimes, permanently. This may result from moral and

religious convictions, but much more often, it is the result

of some internal disorder such as fear--fear of males, of

sexual inadequacy and frigidity, of sex itself--or the

inability "to fall out of love" with the former spouse, to


sever the marital emotional ties. This last situation is

scarcely ever permanent. Of course, there are always some

who are incapacitated by chronic illness, disease and

advanced old age.

Secondly, there are the "abusers" who comprised about 5

per cent of female respondents. These use sex in ways taat

perpetuate their internal problems and keep them alienated

from others, regardless of how many physical contacts they

have. They use sex as an analgesic, a pain killer that

gives passing relief from their sense of failure or

undesirability, or as an intoxicant to contract their

chronic low self-esteem or depression; or as a punishment

used vicariously against the former spouses. Some of tne

"abusers" remain stuck here while others outgrow this phase

with an increased sense of self-worth and respect for

others, and learn to appreciate sex as an important part of

a legitimate and healthy relationship, and thus join the


The users typically go through three phases as follows.

(1) Ego-repair. Frequently the trauma of divorce leaves one

with an inadequate self-image, and "dead from the waist

down." Initial sexual encounters give assurance ot self-

worth and abilities. (2) Exploration. Having sex with a

new partner scarcely ever is the same as sex in marriage,

either on the physical or emotional level, and many find

that the new experiences have a type of excitement never


experienced in marriage. This can lead to exploration of

techniques and partners. (3) Reconstruction. This, the

final stage, may be entered after either or both of the

above, or indeed, directly without having to go throuqL

either of them. Here, sex is used as an integral part or a

loving, caring relationship which, if successful and

lasting, leads to remarriage. If not, the search for a new

partner is resumed, a search which may be repeated a number

of times before satisfaction and confidence are achieved,

and commitment to a new marriage takes place.

Corroboration for the disruption of existing sexual

patterns on one hand, and the substantially widespread use

of sex by partners in divorce, on the other, can be found in

two studies on problems closely allied to the sexual

difficulties experienced during the divorce process. The

first deals with the cessation of marital intercourse.

Edwards and Booth (1976) found that marital coitus had

ceased for a definable period (median eight weeks) in one-

third of a random sample of 365 spouses in intact marriages,

who were relatively young and had been married an average of

11 years. They found that 32 per cent of the males and 36

per cent of the females reported such a cessation. Among

those reporting cessation of intercourse, 42 per cent of the

males and 35 per cent of the females reported marital

discord as the cause. This was by far the most common

reason given, followed by illness, decreased interest in


sex, and surgery. Since marital coitus is discontinuous on

such a widespread scale in intact marriages, and since

marital discord is the chief cause, it is justifiable to

assume that usually intercourse between spouses ceases early

in the divorce process, which typically is frouqht with


The other study worth mentioning is by Rindfuss and

Bumpass (1977). They report that a recent Current

Population Survey indicates that about 8 per cent of the

births to twice-married women in recent cohorts occurred

between the dates of their divorces and remarriaqe (U.S

Bureau of the Census, 1974). Many of these babies may have

been conceived in the former marriages, but at the same time

this estimate underestimates the extent of childbearing

during marital disruption because it excludes births between

separation and divorce. Actually a quarter of remarried

women in the 1970 National Fertility Study (Byder and

Westoff, 1971) reported a birth during a period of marital

disruption. Possible explanations of these pregnancies are:

(1) they were a "last chance" effort to save the marriaqgs,

(2) they were caused by future spouses, or (3) they were

fathered by someone else. The effects of these births on

the postdivorce trauma and adjustment merit serious study as

there is no relevant information to date.

Paul Gebhard (1970) published his findings on the sexuia

activity of women whose marriages had been disrupted. His


most salient findings were the following. (1) The majority

of women whose marriages had ended engaged in sexual

intercourse while divorced, separated or widowed. (2) These

women most commonly began postmarital intercourse within one

year after the end of the marriages. (3) The averaqc

frequency varied from 36 to 73 times a year up to the age of

40, after which there was a marked decrease. (4) The

divorced exceeded the widows in terms of the per cent wao

had postmarital relations, the frequency of these relations,

and the speed with which such relations were begun after the

end of the marriages.

Disruptions in Her Social Life

The divorcee is apt to find herself like the "fifth

wheel" in social situations with former friends. Lantz et

al. (1968) asserted that married and engaged women regard

the divorcee as a threat to their relationships with their

husbands or fiances. Ploscowe (1955) expressed the opinion

that many men think that the divorced woman can be sexually

seduced more easily, since they assume she is now sexually

inactive while they know she is sexually experienced. Weiss

(1975a) and Hunt and Hunt (1979) found much supporting

evidence of this attitude among sales. Divorcees, in

consequence, feel an urgent need to make new friends, and

these are frequently found among the ranks of other

divorcees who have shared experiences (Hunt and Hunt, 1979).


Kirkpatrick (1963) stated that to the divorcee, society

seems to be an alien and lonely place, and that sae usually

desires to escape from those things which remind her of her

former husband, or rushes headlong into frenetic

activities. Some prefer to isolate themselves and nurse

their hurt egos in private, while others return to their

families of orientation, seeking the comfort they received

as children.

Albrecht (1980) found that his female respondents

reported dropping their memberships in clubs and

organizations, and increasing their interaction with

relatives--a change in their social lives away from

organizations and back towards their families of


Many established social patterns of behavior are

effectively disrupted by divorce, requiring the divorcee to

develop new patterns. The pair relationship is broken

making it necessary to learn to function and live alone

again without the companionship of a spouse. Further, she

may be socially inhibited from revealing her true feelings

if she is bitter, confused or profoundly hurt, and finds

herself forced, as Mowrer (1935) and Horney (1950) pointed

out, to play roles that are undesirable and repelling.

Disruptions in Her Financial Status

In Goode's study, the ensuing financial situation after

the divorce was not perceived as a significant problem by

those mothers who had remarried. However, those who had not

remarried reported financial problems. On the average,

those divorced women had almost as such income, from all

sources, as their ex-husbands had earned. In sharp contrast

to these findings of the late forties, recent data indicate

that objective financial reality for divorced mothers in the

70s was indeed very grim. Single-parent families headed oy

a woman had only half the income, cn the average, of single-

parent families headed by a man, and a mere third of the

income enjoyed by husband-wife families (U.S. Bureau of ta~

Census, 1973). This coincides with more recent data on the

overall picture of the earnings of men and women. In 1977

the median weekly earnings of women were $156, compared with

$253 for men (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1978).

Albrecht's findings (1980) indicate that divorced women's

perceptions of their current income coincide wita the facts.

Two-thirds of his female respondents reported that their

incomes following divorce were significantly lower than

before it. In spite of the passage of time, a mere 7 per

cent of them were able to report a higher postdivorce

income. Consequently, the divorcee is likely to have to

live on a much smaller income than she was accustomed to

during her marriage, and perhaps have to learn to handle her

personal finances herself for the first time in her life.

The number and ages of the children influence the

divorced mother's financial status (Landis and Landis 1968)

and in the majority of cases, child support and alimony are

inadequate for the needs of the divorcee and her children.

The trauma of this experience is often increased by the fact

that she failed to anticipate it realistically (Groves and

Groves, 1947). Many such mothers who never worked before

find it necessary to make a belated entry into the

workforce. Further, their financial situation is often made

worse by difficulty in establishing credit.

Blair (1969) found that the levels of adjustment aiter

divorce were significantly related to Rodqers' (1964) and

Rowe's (1966) stages of the family life cycle. Adjustment

was most difficult for divorcees in Stage VI, at which point

all the children were still living with the divorcee.

Adjustment was least difficult in Stage VII, when the

children were being launched, and the youngest child who was

living with the divorcee was over 20 years of age. This

finding suqqests that the family life cycle stage, rather

than the number of children, may be a more accurate

indicator of adjustment after the divorce.

Approximately 60 per cent of all divorces involve minor

children; "around 1 million children a year suffer through

the dissolution of their families" ("Children of Divorce,"

1980:58). Divorce often produces trauma in these children.

This is especially so when the children believed that their


parents were happily married. On the other hand, where the

marriage was obviously unhappy, the children often

experience relief when the divorce takes place (Landis,


Legal Process Source of Trauma

The Adversary System

Until a decade ago the adversary system of divorce was

used and is still in wide use today. This process tends to

generate strife and bitterness because one of the partners

is accused of wrongdoing, and the attorneys of both parties

seek to get the best possible settlements for their

respective clients. Virtually all authorities agree that

such of the vindictiveness which traditionally has been

associated with divorce is traceable to the hostilities tnat

are engendered by the divorce process (Leslie 1982:565).

Spanier and Anderson (1979) conducted in-depth interviews

with 205 people in Pennsylvania who had been separated 26

months or less. Over half of their respondents indicated

dissatisfaction with the legal process includingq the laws,

judges, attorneys, etc.) and 84 per cent desired change in

the Pennsylvania law, still usinq the adversary system

exclusively. These respondents experienced a wide range of

problems with the legal system, most of them centering

around the attorneys. One-third of them found their

attorneys no help at all, half of them believed the


attorneys' fees were outrageous or too high, and 29 per cent

of them were advised by their attorneys to do things which

were calculated to aggravate their spouses. They suggested

such things as not paying bills, not speaking to the other

spouse, taking money out of the savings account, and moving

out of the house. The study strcnqly suqqests that the

adversary system encourages collusion and dishonesty.

Significant numbers reported lying in hearings and using

trumped-up statements in court which were to their own

advantage and damaging to the spouse.

Under the adversary system of divorce, roundsd" for

divorce have to be presented. About 52 per cent of all U.S.

divorces have been granted on legal grounds of physical or

mental cruelty. Mental cruelty is an umbrella category

which includes suspicion, jealousy, untruthfulness, and

vague subjective complaints (Levinger, 1966). About 23 per

cent of divorce cases were granted on qrcunds of desertion,

4 per cent for non-support, and about 1 per cent for

adultery. Needless to say, these legal rounds for divorce

are not necessarily the real causes of divorce, and may uot

coincide with the causes perceived by the spouses involved.

Studies have found little relationship between statutory

grounds for divorce and the actual causes of marital

failure (Harmsworth and Minnis, 1955; Mowrer, 1924; Stetson

and Wright, 1975).

In a study of 600 couples filing for divorce in

Cleveland, Ohio, Levinqer (1966) reported on the causes

presented by the divorcing couples. Overall, wives'

complaints were twice as numerous as husbands'. They

complained 11 times more frequently than husbands about

physical abuse, four times more often about financial and

drinking problems, and three times more than husbands about

verbal abuse.

Only in three categories did husbands complain more

frequently than the wives: sexual incompatability, in-law

trouble, and excessive demands. Mental cruelty was brought

up most frequently by both sexes: 40 per cent of the

females and 29.7 per cent of the males mentioned it. Next

came neglect of home and children: 39 per cent of the

females and 26.2 per cent of the males singled tais cut.

Financial problems and physical abuse tied as the third most

widespread complaint from the females: 36.3 per cent of

them listed both. By comparison, only 8.7 per cent of the

males referred to financial problems and a mere 3.3 per cent

complained of physical abuse. This last figure on physical

abuse raises some questions in view of the fact that other

studies have found that up to one-third of families in whica

violence is used report physical hitting by the wife

(Gelles, 1972).

As might be expected many more females (26.5 per cent)

than males (5 per cent) complained of spouses with drinking


problems. In the matter of infidelity, 24 per cent of the

females and 20 per cent of the males accused their spouses

of this.

Levinger found that complaints differed across

socioeconomic lines. In general, spouses in tae middle-clasa

were more concerned with psychological and emotional

interaction, while those in the lower-class mainly mentioned

financial problems, and the physical actions of their

partners. This coincides with Galbraith's observation:

"In a poor society, not only do economic considerations

dominate social attitudes but they rigidly specify the

problems that will be accorded priority" (Galbraith,

1964:117). Further, Maslow (1954) stated that each human

desires to fulfill a variety of needs and postulated the

following categorical order in which they can be gratified.

(1) Subsistence needs of hunger, thirst, and other

physiological requirements. (2) Needs for safety and

protection from external harm. (3) Needs for love, belouq-

inqness and inter-personal warmth. (4) Needs for esteem and

respect from other persons. (5) Only after the above are

satisfied to a minimal extent can the individual seek to

achieve self-actualization.

Levinger concludes that even in the U.S. a large

proportion of married couples are so heavily engaged with

coping to satisfy the needs of the first and second levels

(subsistence and safety), that they are unable to worry

about the achievement of mature love or interpersonal

respect, not to speak of that rare quality of self-actual-

ization. Verbal therapies may be not merely unsuccessful,

but largely irrelevant to the needs of individuals striving

at the basic level during and after the divorce process.

Komarovsky (1964) and Rubin (1976) had similar findings

in their studies of working-class couples. In these

marriages they found little attention given to such

qualities as sharing, communication, and intimacy. Their

most important marriage goals were being able to provide a

reasonably good living and "being good to the children."

No-Fault Divorce

As a better and more realistic approach to divorce and to

reduce the trauma involved, Florida and California

implemented no-fault divorce laws in the early 70s (Nye and

Berardo, 1973). Since then over half of the American states

have adopted various forms of no-fault divorce laws (Wriaht

and Stetson, 1978). In general, these new laws dropped the

term "divorce" and substituted "dissolution of marriage," to

be granted because of the irremediable breakdown of the


Under no-fault laws either spouse can be required to pay

alimony, and the court can require either or both to

contribute to the support of minor children. In California,

since its law went into effect, a significantly smaller

percentage of women with young children have been receiving

alimony than formerly (Bunt and Bunt, 1979:209). However,

it is unclear if this is the result of the new laws or

simply the continuation of an already existing trend,

because a national survey in 1975 found that only one out

of every seven separated or divorced women had been awarded

alimony or maintenance--half as many as in 1939 (Bryant,


The no-fault divorce laws would appear to be more liberal

than those of the adversary system, making it easier for

parties to obtain divorce. But that does not mean that the

no-fault laws led to higher divorce rates. Indeed, making

divorce laws more restrictive or more liberal has appeared

to have had little effect on the divorce rate (Abel, 1973;

Wright and Stetson, 1978). Besides, it has been claimed

that strict laws have failed to restrict climbing divorce

rates because those seeking divorces have been able to

manipulate the laws and the legal system (Blake, 1962;

Spanier and Anderson, 1979). Bheinstein (1971) argued that

perjury, falsification of evidence, and unnecessary

animosity and hardship, rather than a lowering of the

divorce rate, have been the outcome of the adversary system.

Trauma Peak Precedes Divorce Decree

Existing data indicate that the period of greatest trauma

for the couples is not at the time of the divorce itself.

Goode's respondents indicated that the worst time was at the

final separation. In Albrecht's study (1980) they

characterized the period of final decision as the most

difficult. This was a period of increasing conflict between

the spouses, forcing them to choose divorce as an

alternative to a bad relationship.

This is consistent with the findings of Brown et al.

(1976) who, during in-depth interviews with a sample of

divorcees living in the Boston area, found that a

significant majority of those women reported that things

were "easier now" compared with the period prior to the

divorce. It would seem that despite the problems faced by

the divorcees in heading a family all alone, and in trying

to provide for it on reduced resources, they consider their

lot better than what they had to endure during the final

stages of their marriages.

Anyhow, typically by the time the divorce actually takes

place, at least the very worst is over. The individuals

work through the trauma by drawing on their own inner

resources, and with help from their own families and

friends, and sometimes from professionals too.

After divorce they move steadily towards dating and then

remarriage. Goode (1956) found that 54 per cent of mothers

who had been divorced two years had remarried. Hunt and

Hunt (1979) found that divorcees in recent years had become

more cautious about entering new love relationships and

remarriages, probably because the spiraling divorce rate

caused wariness towards remarriage. They found that only 40

per cent of all divorcees had remarried within tree years

after the divorce. This may be partially explained by the

current phenomenon of living together.

During the 1970s living together became a widespread

social phenomenon, especially among college students. In

1979 there were over two and a half million Americans living

together without being married. This was more taan double

the number reported in 1970 (U.S. Bureau of the Census,

1980). Very few studies of this phenomenon among non-

college student populations have been conducted. One such

study collected data from a nationwide random sample of 2510

men between the ages of 20 and 30 years (Clayton and Voss,

1977). The authors concluded that cohabitation may be a

prelude to marriage for some persons. For others,

especially those who have experienced unsatisfactory

marriages, cohabitation may be a temporary or permanent

alternative to remarriage. So this phenomenon may partially

explain the apparently slower rate of remarriage among

divorcees in recent years.

Another explanation may be found in the "marriage

penalty" tax law. It was created in 1969 by Congress waen


it revised the tax laws to reduce a sizeable penalty imposed

on single taxpayers, but the correction created a new

problem. The tax on the combined income of a husband and

wife with comparable salaries is considerably higher than it

would be if the earners were single and reported their

incomes separately.

Under the law, marriage can cost $391 for a couple making

$20,000 a year. If the couple jointly earns $60,000, the

"marriage penalty" amounts to $3,654.

To get around paying the extra tax, some married
couples have gotten divorced, some singles live
together out of wedlock, and some who find
cohabitation morally uncomfortable have postponed
wedding plans. ("Tax laws may end profits gained
by 'living in sin.'" 1981:12A)

Creative Divorce

Many authors for many years have been pointing out that

although divorce is costly from a social and psychological

standpoint, it is undesirable and indeed impossible for

couples to remain married in all cases (Llewellyn, 1933;

MacIver, 1937; Bee, 1959; Udry, 1966; and Woable, 1966).

Consequently, divorce can be a positive, beneficial

experience offering a legitimate escape from an intolerable

situation and an avenue to a new life in remarriage or

mature singlehood. Even when divorce is a traumatic

experience it can be transformed into a creative process.

A creative divorce is essentially the beginning of
a journey of self-discovery and development,
triggered by the crisis of separation, that can go
on for as long as you live. The elements of a

creative divorce are found in even the earliest
stages of separation when you recognize and
appreciate the "seeds beneath the snow," those
early signs of the undiscovered person that was
buried in your marriage. (Krantzler, 1973:236)

Cycle of Divorce

Divorce is a very complex and prolonged experience as

well as a painful one. That is because so many things are

happening at once in the process. These various components

of the complex experience can come in different orders and

in varying intensities, and they are the more painful and

puzzling for the individual because our society is not yet

equipped to handle any of them well.

Bohannan (1970) identified six main components in the

divorce experience, components which he calls overlapping

experiences. They are as follows. (1) The emotional

divorce which centers around the problem of the

deteriorating marriage. (2) The legal divorce based on

grounds. (3) The economic divorce which deals with aoney

and property. (4) The coparental divorce which deals with

custody, single-parent homes and visitation. (5) The

community divorce surrounding the changes of friends and

community that every divorcee experiences. (6) The psychic

divorce, dealing with the problems of regaining individual


Further comment on these six components will be confined

to the first and last on the list. These two, the emotional


divorce and the psychic divorce, merit fuller explanation

because they shed much light on the postdivorce adjustment

cycle, which is central in this dissertation. Besides, the

other four components have been amply elaborated on


Emotional divorce is likely to be the first visible stage

of a deteriorating marriage. This occurs when the partners

withold positive emotions and displace them with negative

ones. They may continue to work together as a social team,

but their attraction and trust for each other have

disappeared. The natural and healthy "qrowinq apart" of the

stable married couple is very different from this. As

marriages mature, the spouses grow in new directions, but

they also develop bonds of growing interdependence. With

emotional divorce, people do not grow together as they grow

apart. Instead they become mutually antagonistic and grate

on each other. Conflicts erupt over real or perceived

issues, and sometimes they are afraid to fight over the real

issues, but instead, through displacement, fight over the

two major socially accepted issues: sex and money.

Finally comes the psychic divorce. It is usually the

last and always the most difficult. Bohannan (1970) stated

that he could not find a word sufficiently strong or precise

enough to describe the difficulty of the psychic divorce

process. Weiss (1975a) uses the term "imprinting." The

phenomenon of imprinting in the animal world is well

documented. Something analogous takes place between

spouses, and the ensuing bonds are extremely hard to sever

definitively. Each partner to the ex-marriage must turn

himself or herself again into an autonomous social

individual completely independent of the former spouse.

Further, people who are married tend to become socially part

of a couple or a family and lose the habit of seeing

themselves as individuals. As they are faced with the need

to become autonomous again they are probably afraid and feel

unable to cope, and are certainly lonely. This partly

explains the widespread phenomenon experienced by

researchers of divorce: the tendency of divorcees to

indulge in "instant intimacy," pouring out their most

intimate troubles to a perfect stranger as a catharsis. The

grief has to be worked out alone without benefit of

traditional rites. In divorce one is very much on one's


Cycle of Readjustment

Waller and Hill (1951) proposed a general theory of

readjustment which postulated four stages of reaalustment

through which divorcees progress: (1) breaking old habits,

(2) beginnings of reconstruction of life, (3) seeking new

love objects, and (4) readjustment completed.

Blair (1969) found that three-fourths of her divorcee

respondents had attained a medium level of adjustment and

that breaking old habits was the longest and most difficult

stage in the cycle. They completed the four stages of

adjustment not in the order listed by Waller and Hill, but

in the following sequence: (1) beginnings of reconstruction

of life, (2) seeking new love objects, (3) breaking old

habits, and (4) readjustment completed. These stages will

be described now in this empirical sequence.

1. Beginnings of reconstruction of life. Readjustment

involves a painful mourning process which is filled with

memories of the past. The divorcee begins to emerge from

the stage of regression in which she first found herself

when sex expression on the adult, socialized level was

blocked. This emergence may involve some degradation of

sex, and promiscuity. Some few remain blocked at this level

but the majority progress as they find solace for their ego

wounds. The divorcee re-forms her social world to meet her

new circumstances. The world organized for dual

participation no longer accommodates her conveniently and

she must alter her associations somewhat and form new

friends. With great pain new habits begin to be formed.

After the shock of loss, she may not care to go on living at

first, but she does go on living. She must eat, sleep,

shop, and work alone. For a time these activities are

meaningless, empty, and painful. She may find herself

unburdening her secrets and troubles in casual contacts

because of the pain of lost intimacy.


2. Seeking new love objects. At this stage, in the area

of sex the divorcee is no longer seeking an outlet for her

blocked sex life, but searches for a new love obiect--one to

love and to be loved by as before. This may involve a

series of affairs which gradually approach or even surpass

the nature and intensity of the one that has been broken.

One's daily tasks begin to take on meaning again even though

a certain amount of mourning still endures.

3. Breaking old habits. Habits, especially those laden

with emotion and based on close intimacy, prove to be quite

difficult to be broken. Part of the difficulty lies in the

fact that the regular routine of daily living must go on,

and these actions--sitting down to breakfast, deciding what

to cook, solving problems, etc.--all bring back memories of

the former spouse, because he was part of or central to

these activities. This gives rise to poignancy and grief

over and over again. Even when it seems that one has gotten

over it, some insignificant object or action, or meeting an

old friend can trigger it all again. It is like a chronic

illness that comes and goes but keeps going on and on.

(4) Readjustment completed. The mourning process is

terminated, and unsettling memories eventually cease.

Sexual readjustment is complete in that one has found a new

meaningful love object or arranged one's sex life in some

other way in mature adulthood which no longer causes

conflict. Habits take on a new meaning and are organized


into a new life. A strain of consistency exerts itself into

the personality. A new life organization and a new

philosophy of life emerge. Readjustment is complete.

Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework for this survey is based on

Lee's theory of migration in terms of push and pull factors

(Lee, 1966). First, Lee defined migration broadly as a

permanent or semi-permanent change of residence. No

restriction was placed by Lee upon the distance of the move

nor upon the voluntary or involuntary nature of the act, and

no distinction was made between external and internal

migration. Since divorce involves permanent or semi-

permanent change of residence for at least one of the

spouses (except in the instance when both continue to live

under the same roof after divorce) divorce can be included

in Lee's broad definition of migration. Besides the process

of physical movement there is also, of course, the departure

and re-entry or relocation in both the social and socio-

physical sense.

Factors in the Divorce Decision and Process

The factors which enter into the decision to divorce and

the process of divorce may be categorized under four

headings. (1) Endogenous factors associated with the

marriage itself, which is the point of origin. (2)

Exogenous factors associated with divorce and after, which

form the destination. (3) Intervening obstacles and

facilitating networks and resources. (4) Personal factors.

In every marriage there are many endogenous factors which

act to hold the spouses together in the marriage, and still

other endogenous factors which tend to separate them. There

are still others to which spouses are essentially

indifferent. Some of these factors affect most people in

the same way, while others affect different people in

various ways. Thus fulfillment and happiness would tend to

keep the spouses together, whereas serious continuous

conflict would tend to repel them away from each other. By

contrast, protectiveness would be viewed positively by a

dependent type spouse, but negatively by an autonomous type.

Turning now to the destination, divorce and after, a

spouse may perceive positives and negatives there which are

called exogenous factors. Autonomy, professionalism,

further education and similar factors would be seen as pull

factors. Lower income, greater responsibility, loneliness

and similar considerations could be seen as repelling


Needless to say, all factors that serve as push and pull

forces at the locus of origin--marriage, and

destination--divorce and after, are precisely understood

neither by sociologists nor the spouses themselves. Like

Bentham's calculus of pleasure and pain, the calculus of the

push and pull factors at the origin and destination is

always inexact.

However, this important difference between the factors at

the locus of origin and destination needs to be noted. The

factors at the locus of criqin are present, pressing and

well perceived by the spouse involved. But the factors at

destination are distant, in the future, and somewhat

uncertain. This uncertainty can cause either fear or

excitement depending on one's personality.

While divorce may result from a comparison of the

endogenous factors at origin and the exoqenous factors at

destination, a simple calculus of the plusses and minuses

does not bring about the decision to divorce. The balance

in favor of the move or decision must be enough to overcome

hesitancy and fear to act.

Further, between the two points or loci there stands a

set of intervening obstacles which must be overcome. Amonq

these obstacles are the legal divorce process, custody of

children and property settlements, and community norms

counter to divorce. These obstacles differ from state to

state, individual to individual, and community to community.

Overcoming these obstacles can be made easier by

facilitating networks and resources, such as good friends, a

helpful attorney, professional aid, and financial resources.

Finally, there are many personal factors which facilitate

or retard the decision to divorce. One such important