Jennifer Roback Morse explains how divorce laws changed marriage

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

When couples think that divorce is possible, it changes what marriage means. She also talks about how Christianity makes a big difference to our understanding of marriage.

The MP3 file is here.

Right Wing News posted an interview with Warren Farrell recently, and this question and answer struck me.

Excerpt:

Now thanks to people like Mark Steyn, conservatives have gotten a lot more interested in demographics over the last few years. In the Western world, you’re seeing a lot less marriage and a lot less people having children. Now you’ve written a couple of books about divorce and you’ve had a lot of experience talking about marriage. Why do you think marriage is simply less appealing to men today than it used to be a few decades ago?

I think, first of all, it’s both more appealing and less appealing. For example, when I wrote Why Men Are the Way They Are in 1986, almost invariably women would say that the first chapter that they opened up to was the chapter on why are men afraid of commitment. There was a deep interest in the ’70s and early ’80s – and for hundreds of years before that — on the part of women on how to get a man, how to get married and so on. Men were oftentimes the resisting party to that. Today, from what I can tell anecdotally and what I see in surveys, men and women are about equally interested in getting married. Having said that, there is a statistical shift that actually is in the opposite direction. Men have a greater interest, compared to women, in getting married in relation to what it used to be.

Nevertheless, there are many men whose fear of getting married is based on many things — one of which is that they see that their dad was married when he was younger, but now he lives in an apartment while their mom lives in a home. The mom got to raise the children, which they interpreted when they were younger as “Dad was just not interested,” but then as they got to be age 18 to 25, their dad eventually let them know that he was extremely interested and showed them court documents about how he fought in court to be involved with them, but how the mom resisted that involvement. So the man starts saying, “Wow, if I get married to the wrong woman, I could end up like my dad. My dad thought he was in love with my mom at the time and my mom was in love with my dad. Then my dad ended up not getting the home, not getting the children, having us feel that he hated us or was at least neglectful of us, his being depressed and disappointed and paying child support for children he couldn’t see in a home he couldn’t live in….” That gets pretty depressing for some boys that feel they could fall into the same pattern. The reason it isn’t even more depressing for many men is that when a man falls in love, he believes his woman will be different and oftentimes she is. But, sometimes she isn’t.

I think a lot of young men who have suffered through this experience are worried about it happening to them. A good start would be to realize that God wants us to have good marriage, and to ask ourselves – what are we going to do to prepare ourselves for marriage? What are we going to read? How will be train our character to be able to put others first? How will we strengthen our faith so that it can have an impact on our actions? If we just leave it up to whims and feelings, things aren’t going to work out. There has to be some sort of plan to make the marriage successful.

3 thoughts on “Jennifer Roback Morse explains how divorce laws changed marriage”

  1. This is a great post.
    It mirrors “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study” (ie – who want to be a statistic ?). In review, it is a shame that a large number of ex-parents have taken little to no precaution about instructing their children how not to repeat the same mistake they made that has caused a broken family and “schizophrenia” child raising (we have yet to see the consequences of this given the large number of increasing divorces).

    Unless, the young men and women are “aware” and can keep themself from getting entangled in constant barrage of free sex (FWB), pre-marital sex, and get serious about abstinence (holy living) – they will not be able to stand – the current is too strong.

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    1. I love Judith Wallerstein’s book. Highly-recommended. That’s what started me on the “why should I be careful about marriage and parenting” track. If marriage matters to God, then I should know more about it – and not just “common sense”, “intuition” or my desires. Not just feelings, peer pressure, envy, vanity and photographs of weddings and babies. But hard evidence of what bad decisions cost, and how to make good decisions.

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  2. Btw, further thoughts given the large number of divorcees. Very few people are doing very little of anything to prepare for Marriage Round II which has a higher divorce rate.

    In review – the state of families / relationships / Body of Christ (current condition – all share the same status).

    The most simple explanation I can find is from Matt 24:12:
    Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…

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