Clayton Cramer has some interesting thoughts on marriage:
I was reading a paper that my wife was grading that made the rather interesting claim that there’s no correlation between divorce and income levels. This was rather startling to me–and apparently not true. I found quite a number of papers, from quite a range of years, that show that the lower your income level, the more likely that you are to get divorced:
“In contrast to getting married, the difficulty of staying married increases substantially with levels of economic disadvantage. The probability of splitting up in each year after first marriage is consistently higher for women with less, than for those with more, education (Exhibit 3, top panel) and for those from less, compared with more, affluent neighborhoods (bottom panel). The effect of neighborhood income level is especially large. For example, the probability of breaking up within 10 years of marriage is nearly twice as high for women from the bottom quarter (44 percent break-up) as for those from the top quarter (23 percent break-up) of neighborhoods ranked by median family income.”
He also makes an interesting point about no-fault divorce laws, and how people are more likely to get divorced when the process is made easier.
That is a factor, but I think there is definitely a societal aspect to it as well. Our culture has become one that embraces that which is disposable. We move a lot, many of our friendships tend to be fleeting, and we job-hop at a rate that is completely foreign to our grandparents. Anybody who’s read John Brunner’s The Shockwave Rider can recognize our society: we are superficial, detached, and closer to our computers than to our fellow human beings. The term “starter marriage” has entered the vernacular, and a common philosophy seems to be that if a relationship isn’t working, then why stay?
This is not to say that people should stay in relationships where they are being neglected, abused or otherwise mistreated. However, in a world of endless choices and endless diversions, we seem to be unwilling or unable to make a real, true commitment. By that, I mean that if your relationship has problems, you work on it. You don’t ignore problems, hoping they’ll go away. You do whatever you have to do to make things work. You operate under the assumption that breaking up (or divorcing), is NOT an option. Very few people seem to really understand what commitment actually is. Many of our politicians, on both sides of the spectrum, have been setting abysmal examples. I’m hoping that we will see a man in the White House (and yes, of course I mean Sen. Brownback) who truly knows the meaning of commitment, and who will treat his job the way he treats his marriage — not walking away when things get tough, not ignoring problems, and working every day to make things better.