Although the main objectives of marriage are permanent union and healthy relationship between couples, unfortunate circumstances do arise in marriage that forces marriage partners to divorce. Psychologists and sociologists have noted that causes of divorce entail many complex issues that complicate and stall continuation of marriage. Infidelity, lack of commitment, drug abuse, poor relationships, incompatible lifestyles, abusive behaviors, and financial problems are some of the common causes of divorces in the modern society.
When divorce occurs in a family, couples are not the only ones who experience emotional and psychological suffering, but also children. Children experience traumatic experiences seeing their parents quarrel and fight until they divorce leaving them to live under single parent-families, which denies them a chance to enjoy balanced parenthood. Given that divorce rates are increasing in the modern society, what are the causes and effects of divorce on children?
Psychologists and sociologists argue that causes of divorce are complex of issues that result from internal and external influences on marriage. Couples experience many challenges in their marriages that complicate their relationship status and compel them to divorce, as the only way out of the problems they face.
As mentioned above, the common causes of divorce in the modern society include infidelity, lack of commitment, drug abuse, poor relationships, incompatible lifestyles, abusive behaviors, and financial problems among other social issues. Nevertheless, research studies point at infidelity as the most common cause of divorce among young couples.
According to Stewart and Brentano, “extramarital affairs contribute about 27% of the divorce rates in the United States while domestic violence comes second with approximately 18% of divorce rates” (448).
These figures show that, the major factor that contributes to the high rates of divorce in the society is an external factor of extramarital affairs. Extramarital affairs are very common due to change in marriage lifestyles and perceptions of the society. Studies further reveal that husbands are the most unfaithful in marriages by having many partners as compared to their wives. Abusive behaviors of husbands that lead to domestic violence come second as the most cause of divorce in marriages.
Financial problems, incompatible lifestyles, drug abuse, and lack of commitment contribute to poor relationship in marriages leading to divorce. When couples experience financial problems in their marriages, they cannot agree on how to satisfy family needs; therefore, the priority of satisfying family needs creates conflict because partners feel that they are living poor lives within the marriage while divorce can offer freedom of satisfying one’s needs.
Since marriage involves union, husband and wife have diverse interests in life. Clashing interests of life in marriage result into incompatible lifestyles that complicate marriage relationship. Couples who have incompatible lifestyles will not lead a happy marriage life for they will always have quarrels and disagreements that eventually end up in divorce.
Stewart and Brentano argue, “Drug abuses such as alcoholism has made couples to neglect their marital responsibilities leaving their partners lose interest with marriage life causing them to file divorce in the courts” (451). According to survey, among couples, husbands are more likely to fall into drug addiction and neglect their marital responsibilities, which push their wives to seek divorce.
Effects of divorce are very damaging to the growth and development of children and significantly change course of their lives. Research shows that the “effects depend on the age of the child at the time of divorce, on the child’s gender and personality, the amount of conflict between parents and the support provided by friends and family” (Temke 109). Children of two years and above can experience emotional and psychological disturbances if parents divorce.
The children at this stage are psychologically mature to understand the nature of relationships that their parents undergo and they are often depressed and traumatized when parents divorce. Preschool age children tend to blame themselves for the occurrence of divorce as they develop sense of guilt and become socially withdrawn from the family Since children are very young to endure emotional and psychological disturbances, they become depressed and their performance declines in class.
As children grow and approach adolescence, divorce experiences haunt them. They contemplate on how divorce has changed their lives in terms of increased family responsibilities and change in their lifestyles. Adolescents tend to lose meaning of life and marriage because they may leave their studies and decide never to get married in future.
“Teens experience anger, fear, loneliness, depression and guilt, some feel pushed into adulthood if they must take responsibility for many new chores or care of siblings and may doubt their own ability to get married or to stay married” (Lansdale, Cherlin, & Kiernan 1621). Therefore, if remedial measures are in place to help children cope with problem, divorce will adversely affects their future.
Divorce is the major marital problem that threatens survival of marriages and upbringing of children in the modern society. Infidelity and domestic violence are the two prime causes of divorce, the number one reason for single parenthood.
Other factors such as financial problems, drug abuse, and incompatible lifestyles also form part of problems that complicate marriage life for couples. Children suffer because they are very young to endure traumatic experiences due to divorce. Children become depressed and often lose direction in life due to lack proper parental support, which plays a key role in normal child development.
Lansdale, Chase, Cherlin, Andrew, and Kiernan, Kathleen. “The Long-Term Effects of Parental Divorce on the Mental Health of Young Adults: A Developmental Perspective.” Child Development 66 (1995):1614-1634.
Web. 5 May 2011.
Stewart, Clarke, and Brentano, Cain. “Divorce: Causes and Consequences.” Book Review Yale University Press, 2006. Web. 5 May 2011.
Temke, Mary. “The Effects of Divorce on Children.” North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, 2001. Web. 5 May 2011.