News & Opinion | May 30, 2019 4:55 pm

Are “Children of Divorce” Doomed in Their Own Marriages?

A decades-long trend is in sharp decline

Happy divorce season everybody

Inherited marital instability — coming from a broken home and carrying that dysfunction with you into your own future relationships — is a very real phenomenon. But the trend is losing steam.

“Children of divorce,” The Atlantic reported, have long been more likely to get divorced than people who are from “intact families.” They’re also more likely to find and marry others with divorced parents. This may be because, as children, these future divorcees don’t learn how to commit.

“All couples fight,” explained Nicholas Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah. “If your parents stay together, they fight and then you realize these things aren’t fatal to a marriage. If you’re from a divorced family, you don’t learn that message, and [after fights] it seems like things are untenable. And so you bounce.”

But despite these and the many other hurdles brought on by divorce and being raised by single parents, the likelihood that kids who come from these types of homes will go on to become divorced themselves is in decline. Wolfinger said he saw in his research that married people in the 1970s who had divorced parents were twice as likely as their peers with married parents to get a divorce themselves. Today, those same people are only about 1.2 times more likely than others to end up divorced.

This might be, he theorized, because the stigma that surrounded divorced people has significantly depleted over the decades as it became much more normal and common. As divorce has become more widely accepted, the shame that children of divorce once felt has diminished, allowing those affected by it to pursue deep and meaningful relationships without judgment.

Sure, divorce rates are higher now than in past decades, but this also means that people are less likely to stay in volatile relationships. When people split from these unhealthy situations, their kids are more likely to recognize what constitutes a good relationship, find one for themselves and finally break the cycle.

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