Rafed English

The Growth of Divorce in Modern Life

In the past much attention was not paid to the problem of divorce, its causes and its harmful effects, nor were any measures devised to prevent its incidence, yet the cases of divorce were few and far between. There is no doubt that the difference between the past and the present is due to the fact that now the causes, which lead to divorce, have increased. The social life has taken such a turn that now there are more chances of the disruption of the family bond, and that is why the efforts of the intellectuals and the public-spirited people have, so far, borne no fruit. Regrettably, the future bodes more danger.

The American magazine, 'Newsweek' in an interesting article under the heading, 'Divorce in America', writes that it is easier in America, to get a divorce than to get a taxi.

'Newsweek' further writes that two proverbs about divorce are better known among the American people than any other. One is that "the hardest conciliation between husband and wife is better than divorce". It is 400 years old. The other which represents a diametrically opposite view has gained currency during the second-half of the 20th century. It says that "the second love is more pleasant than the first".

The article shows that the second proverb is more operative in America. The illusion of divorce attracts to itself, not only the newly-wed, but even their mothers, and the couple who were married a long time ago. Since the Second World War onward, on an average, the number of cases of divorce has not been less than 400,000 per annum. Out of the dissolved marriages, 40% had remained intact for 10 years or more and 13% for more than 20 years. The average age of two million women divorces was 45 years. Some 62% of them had children under 18 at the time of the dissolution of their marriages. These women, in fact form a special generation.

Though the American woman feels quite free after divorce, yet the divorced, whether young or the middle- aged, are not happy. Their unhappiness can be gauged from the ever-increasing number of women who call on the psychiatrists or have recourse to alcoholism. Out of every four women divorcees, one is an alcoholic. The average cases of suicide among these women are three times more than among women having husbands. In short as soon as a woman comes victorious out of a divorce court she realises that life after divorce is not a bed of roses. The world can hardly have a good opinion of a woman who dissolves her marriage, the strongest form of human relationship. Society may respect such a woman and even envy her, but cannot look upon her as a person who entered the life of another and brought about happiness.

In the course of this article in Newsweek the question has been raised whether the ever-growing cases of divorce are mostly due to temperamental incompatibility between husband and wife, or some other causes. The writer of the article says that even if incompatibility is accepted to be the cause of separation among the newly-wed couples, how can one explain the cases of those who had been leading a married life for a long time. Taking into consideration the facilities which the American law provides in connection with divorce it may be said that incompatibility is not the reason of separation in the case of a marriage which has lasted out for 10 or 20 years. In the age of contraceptive pills, sexual revolution and improvement in their legal status, many women have come to believe that delight and pleasure are preferable to the stability of married life. You often see that a husband and a wife live together for years, have children, share each others' joy and grief and then suddenly the wife seeks a divorce, without any palpable change having taken place in the material or conventional position of the husband. The reason is that, till yesterday, the woman was willing to bear the boredom of life, but today she is not inclined to do so.

The increase in the cases of divorce is not confined to America. Wherever the modern Western ways have permeated to a considerable degree, the figures of divorce have gone up. Even in the East, divorce is far more common in the modernised big cities than in the small towns and the countryside.

Adapted from the book: "Woman and Her Rights" by: "Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari"

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