This is just a few words about a book I’ve just finished: I just read Tom Brokaw’s book “The Greatest Generation”, and one of the folks he interviewed, and that he commented on, was about divorce and that generation.
Those folks went through the great depression, and then World War II, and married, and stayed married. In 1940, one in six of those marriages ended in divorce. By the late 90s, it was one in two.
In 1997, when a lot of those WW II couples were asked how they felt if one of their own children (or grandchildren) were divorced, said “we still can’t get used to it.”
I know this doesn’t apply to every couple from those early days. My great-grandmother, who was born in the 1860s, had five husbands. I don’t have her records, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t all end in deaths. It was her fourth husband which produced my grandmother (this was all on my mother’s side of the family).
My grandmother was divorced, though she never remarried. My own mother was married three times (she abandoned my dad, when I was about five), and divorced all three times. On the other hand, my dad’s parents stayed married until death (he followed her shortly after she died of cancer – he just did not want to live without her), but my dad married twice after my mother abandoned him – one ended in divorce, the other ended at his death.
I married and divorced twice before I was 24, but had the sense to understand that marriage was probably not in the cards for me. My whole sister (same dad and mother) married twice – the first ended in divorce, she is still married to the second.
I wonder why divorce runs in such patterns, if staying in a marriage would have been easier for each generation had the former generation not done the same. But, in my mother’s family of five brothers and three sisters, two of my uncles were divorced, while the other three stayed married (although one uncle lost his wife through cancer and was killed [shot] by his second), while all three of my aunts stayed married to their first husbands until death. Among my cousins, there have been few divorces, yet those seem to have been in the families where the parent had been divorced.
You think someone might have done a study on this?
Carol Stepp, Austin, TX