Divorce is a serious problem today in the American society. The consequences of divorce and separation in American marriages are much destructive. The fundamental unit of the society does not have the authority to shape the society anymore. In fact, selfishness in marriage is compromising the institution of marriage. The association of lawlessness with divorce in the past decades is increasing. Divorce is a problem in the society for many reasons. Children bear most of the suffering that result from divorce. Apart from trauma and other psychological problems, children of divorcees undergo many indirect problems that their counterparts in intact families do not.
Recent research by National Centre of National Statistics (2009) indicates that there is an increase in divorce in the developed world and a consequent decrease in the first marriages. The number of marriages in the USA in 2005 was 2.230 million compared to 2.280 million in 2004. This means that the marriage rate in 2005 was 7.5 per 1000 which was a decrease from 7.8 in 2004. This indicates that the American society is losing the value of marriages. Despite the fact that many people in the US would like to get married, those opting out of it are numerous (National Centre of National Statistics, 2009). The divorce rate in the 2005 was 3.6 for every a thousand marriages with some states such as Nevada registering as high as 6.5. The same study outlined that that about half of all American children do not grow up with their biological parents (National Centre of National Statistics, 2009).
According to the research findings published by (Jayson, 2009), divorce is one of the main causes of drop in the living standards of most children and females in the developed countries. The research stated that 45 percent of divorced women and children registered a drop in the standards of living. The same study pointed out that divorce contributes to the increase in the incidences of youth suicide among the fatherless children by more than 63 percent, 71 percent of school drop outs, teenage pregnancies by 50 percent and youth imprisonment by 71 percent. Children brought up by divorced parents were more likely to divorce or separate than those from families that never experienced divorced ((Jayson, 2009).
From a structure-functional perspective, divorce in the changing family is a clear indicator of a dysfunctional society. Marriage is an indispensable institution of the society. Marriages form families, the structural and functional unit of society. Families in turn, make and propagate the functional society. The proper functioning of marriage is indicative of normality in the integration of the society members. It is a social mark of maturity, adulthood and normalcy in the community. However, the trend in the way the family is transforming and changing is configuring the sociological atmosphere of the society. The changing social pattern of the family unity seen in many American marriages today is disrupting the solidarity of the society and reshaping the main building blocks of the community. The statistics of the number of divorce, rate of divorce cases in court, the increase in the percentage of the separated families, the sky-rocketing single parenthood in the American society and the developed world reveal that the society is becoming dysfunctional (FitzGerald & Rector, 2000). There is no social integration, social dynamic equilibrium and consensus among societal units is lacking.
Breakage of marriage disrupts the structure of the society. A well structured society ensures stability of families and marriages that will consequently result in the desirable operation of the society. Divorce however, does not encourage love within family members; it causes a loss of sense of belonging among the society members and does disjoint the pattern that trains individuals into becoming responsible and useful. Divorce breaks the social structure of the society.
These trends have many factors to blame. The changing roles of men and women in the society after industrialization, urbanization and modernization, are accelerating the momentum of divorce in the society. The search for freedom within marriage and society at large aggravated social movements with civil-rights and feminist social agenda. The outcome of this is a changed attitude towards the main building block of the society. The desire for autonomy and self development in the contemporary society brought down the status of marriage as a cultural imperative. Many people are currently building a marriage on a foundation of self fulfillment rather than propagation of the society and whenever one feels unsatisfied can opt out of it. Instead of promotion of consensus and equilibrium between partners, individualism becomes the centre of the marital union.
Mitigating the effects of divorce on the couples, children and society at large, will require a change of attitude towards marriage. One policy that can salvage the society off this vice is covenantal commitment (Collins, 1999). Studies indicate that couples that prepare to be committed to each other and marriage whatsoever, and take time to consider their commitment has a lasting marriage union (Collins, 1999). This calls for the return to the traditional attitude of marriage that marriage was a permanent union that only death would cleave. Commitment to marriage will encourage investment of resources mostly, time, energy and responsibility. Collins further states that covenant-based relationship in marriage encourages defense of each other’s interest in the union.
Maintaining the integrity of a marital union is the main responsibility of couples and each one should show commitment to this. There is a need for change of the social atmosphere surrounding marriage; this will come by a commitment to bring up children together despite personal differences. One of the elements of commitment is a compromise of individualistic attitudes for the welfare of others members (Coleman, 2006). Couples in marriage need to understand that marriage is not for an individual’s reasons but the cohesion and propagation of a healthy society.
In conclusion, one can find that unless the society changes the attitude towards marriage, the society it will face marriage crisis. The problems created by divorce are far destructive than those prompting persons to get out of the marriage. The solution lies in the understanding that marriage is bound by selfless commitment as the best environment for bringing up kids. Researchers (FitzGerald & Rector, 2000), report that if marrying partners get involved in covenantal marital commitment, their marriage can last for more than three decades.