Essay on The True Causes of Divorce

Essay on The True Causes of Divorce

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The True Causes of Divorce


The 'fact' that money causes more divorces than any other factor is repeated in books, magazines and Web sites of all stripes. Jan Andersen, associate professor at CSU Sacramento, had heard the conventional wisdom, too. Far from being a skeptic, he wanted to prove the link when he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject at Utah State University. Andersen had long taught courses in personal finance and, as the child of divorce himself, liked the idea that improving people's money skills could help their marriages.

Unfortunately, he found research in this area has been thin, to say the least. The only survey Andersen could find that showed a strong link between money and divorce was one culled from data collected in 1948. When this survey of postwar divorced women was asked what ended their marriages, the leading response was 'nonsupport' -- meaning their husbands hadn't provided enough money for the basic necessities of life.

Needless to say, a few things have changed since then, including more women in the workforce and less financial dependence on men. Andersen also points out that nonsupport was one of the few grounds for which you could get a divorce back in the old days. What?s more, the survey focused only on the women; opinions of ex-husbands weren?t solicited.

The more recent research Andersen reviewed relegated money to a lesser role in divorce. Rarely was it ranked higher than fourth or fifth, with other causes -- incompatibility, lack of emotional support, abuse and sexual problems -- typically ranking higher.

Money causes friction, of course. In a study of married couples from 1980 to 1992, 70% reported some kind of money problems. When Andersen looked deeper at that d...


... middle of paper ...


... called ?the jerk.?

Mellan believes most couples come to relationships with different attitudes about money, and she postulates that even people with similar views will polarize each other over time: Two spenders will change, so that one becomes more conservative with money while the other becomes even more profligate. She also believes, however, that even the most diametrically opposed couples can work out compromises.

?It?s hard work, but it can be done,? said Mellan, whose latest book is ?Money Shy to Money Sure: A Woman?s Road Map to Financial Well-Being.?

One area that Andersen didn?t research, by the way, was the effect of money on second marriages. He concentrated on first marriages alone. But Wall has her own theories.

?I?ve always heard that money was the leading cause for the first divorce, and children were the cause of the second,? Wall said.

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