Divorce rates in the United States are at an all-time high. The highest rates of divorce are now happening to couples living in the South, a new report by the U.S. Census said.
By a stark contrast, men and women living in the Northeast had the lowest rates of divorce.
This is the first time the U.S. Census issued a report like this aimed at describing detailed characteristics of marital events among Americans ages 15 and older.
The new statistics come from the report Marital Events of Americans, which examines the number of marriages, divorces and widowhood in America as well as selected characteristics for those experiencing a marital event in the past year.
Sociologists say divorce rates are climbing at a faster pace in the U.S. because couples start putting themselves in the middle of relationships instead of the children or their partner.
Divorce in America now can be as simple as signing a few papers. With only legal paperwork standing between them and freedom, many disillusioned spouses find that a divorce is the simplest way out of an unhappy situation.
“Freedom is one of the most important beliefs in our nation and nothing can replace that feeling besides love,” said Chris Hall, a sociologists in Gulfport, Miss.
“If one person in the marriage thinks that the love is not offering them happiness and safety, they do not run for long love. They start putting themselves in the center and start loving freedom more than stability.”
Hall said couples seeking divorce are really dreaming about running toward a new form of freedom thinking that will make them happier than the marriage.
Higher than average divorce rates for men occurred mostly in Southern states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
Divorce rates that show a decrease are mainly in the Northeast: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, according to the new report.
"Divorce rates tend to be higher in the South because marriage rates are also higher in the South," said Diana Elliott, a family demographer at the Census Bureau.
"In contrast, in the Northeast, first marriages tend to be delayed and the marriage rates are lower, meaning there are also fewer divorces."
In 2009, 14 states had divorce rates for men that were significantly above the U.S. average, ranging from 10.0 to 13.5 per 1,000.
Researchers discovered that fourteen states had divorce rates for women above the U.S. average.
Nine of the 14 states were in the South, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
Meanwhile, 10 states had divorce rates for women below the national average including Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Sociologists believe that childless marriages are one of the more common causes of divorce.
“As the divorce rates in America continue to rise, bad effects do happen to children who are used to growing up with both parents,” said sociologist Chris Hall. Hall also started a private marriage counseling practice after Hurricane Katrina hit the Coast in 2005.
“When both parents raise a child, the child is learning different things from each parent and developing its own traits. When a parent leaves the household it makes the child feel alone and unwanted.”
Research shows a divorce can affect the child when they become adults. When the child becomes the parent, the divorce cycle repeats itself with greater frequency.
They may think it is not important to work on the marriage, stop the unselfish behavior, and stay married.
“Selfish behavior is the root cause of many divorces,” Hall said.
“It is amazing what happens if we just focus on the other person and work on serving. It helps us grow and most things around us are satisfying because we typically do not want to see our 'work' fail. The love for the other person actually grows instead of being replaced by other feelings."
Other causes for divorce are poor communication, financial problems, differences in culture, jealousy, sexual or emotional abuse, more lenient divorce laws, and a lack of responsibility.
It is amazing that these causes of divorce are similar to those listed in the Bible. It says in the Bible that “God hates divorce.” (Mal. 2:16).
The bottom line is that marriage can be an enriching experience for most couples, offering companionship, increased financial security, sexual gratification, and a welcome change from the stressors of single life.
It is good for society as well, providing a stable environment for children and encouraging family values.
Divorce, on the other hand, is rarely a happy occasion. Breaking apart a marriage brings high costs, both financial and emotional. A divorcing couple is forced to divide up their families, their belongings, and their lives.
Other findings in the U.S. Census study show:
• Children living with a parent who divorced were more likely to live in a household headed by their mother than in a household headed by their father.
• Children living with a parent who divorced were more likely to be in a household below the poverty level.
• The economic well-being of those who experienced a recent marital event differed.
• Women who divorced in the past 12 months were more likely to receive public assistance than recently divorced men.
• Women who divorced in the past 12 months reported less household income than recently divorced men. For example, 27 percent of women who divorced in the past.
• Thirteen states had median durations for second marriages for women below the U.S. median of 14.5 years.
• Among those widowed in the last year, 77 percent of men and 73 percent of women were white alone, non-Hispanic.
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