Articles

Why Marriage is Better than Divorce

Ronald Huereca
English 125/3DDP
11/03/2001
Synthesis Paper

I was merely a child when my parents decided to get a divorce. Due to divorce, I went from a five-person household with everything to a four-person household with practically nothing. I believe divorce ruined many of my opportunities because I had to constantly struggle to provide for myself financially and academically. Would my life have been different had my parents stayed together? Most definitely! In this paper I intend to point out that individuals benefit more from being married than from not being married. I would also like to reinforce that a marriage with children significantly improves the well being of those involved in a marriage such as the father, mother, and most importantly the children.

According to Elise Harris in “Can Marriage Be Saved?” the chances for a successful marriage in the United States are about fifty percent. So why get married at all if there is a fifty-fifty chance that marriage will fail? The answer is that marriage grants unseen benefits in the long run. In Harris’ essay, Linda Waite (a respected sociology professor from the University of Chicago) explains marriage’s health and monetary benefits. Waite states that married people have healthier and wealthier lives than non-married people. She also states that married men live longer and are less likely to commit suicide than non-married men. She continues to support her view as she explains that married women have better health because marriage changes bad habits such as drinking, smoking, etc… She points out that marital sex is also more gratifying than non-marital sex. She concludes that financially, married men earn roughly 40 percent more than non-married men, which grants economic flexibility in a woman’s work life. Adding to the argument that marriage has benefits, Frances K. Goldschneider and Linda J. Waite in their article “Alternative Family Futures,” address that married people live longer lives and have fewer mental health problems than unmarried people.

As I have pointed out, marriage has a lot of incentives, but what are the marital benefits of the father? According to Robert L. Griswold in “Fatherhood and the Defense of Patriarchy,” marriage increases the relationships between fathers and children. In Griswold’s essay, Phyllis Schlafly is quoted stating that a male’s sense of need is satisfied by his role as a provider for the family. Fatherhood also gives men the hopes of a possible future. With marriage, the father can enjoy his wife and the children that they have together. If the marriage has children, the children can encourage respectability, economic productivity, and stop bad habits committed by fathers. Fatherhood also disciplines men to accept responsibility which otherwise would not have been present without marriage (Griswold 376-377). Furthermore, without marriage the father would not experience such pleasures as reading to their children, playing with their children, or other activities that would bring back old childhood memories that the fathers loved and enjoyed as children themselves (Goldshneider, Waite 368).

According to personal experiences and a few references, the marital benefits for the mother are somewhat similar to that of the father. From my own experiences, considering my mom was divorced, my mom had fewer opportunities to advance in industry, was constantly financially challenged, and lacked adequate resources to attend to her three children. Had my mother remained married, she would have had more financial flexibility, and wouldn’t have had to revert to “super mom” status by holding a job and raising a family all at once. My mother, even though she rarely admits it, is often depressed. Studies have shown that divorced women are three times more likely to commit suicide than married women, which points out that divorced women are typically more depressed than married women (Harris). In addition to depression, divorce can be hard on single mothers. Single mothers need help parenting because few mothers can handle raising children on their own. If the parenting falls completely on the mother, she will be less likely to reproduce, and her children will be less likely to reproduce as well (Goldshneider, Waite 368). Coming from a divorced family and living in a single parent household, I believe this is true because my older sister has no children in her relationships, and I have no children as well.

Finally and most importantly, marriage benefits the children. A single parent household run by the mother would present problems for the male children growing up because they lack ideal models of what real men are like. The male children in single parent households lack experience with real problems that men go through such as sexual roles, parenting, and emotional needs (Goldshneider, Waite 367). Divorced parents are also likely to spend less quality time with their children than married parents. With divorced parents spending less time with their kids, children may miss out on such important activities as learning to ride a bike, learning to play a board game, or getting help on a subject from school (Goldshneider, Waite 368). As stated previously, single parents make less money than married parents, and therefore children take the brunt of the financial hardships (Goldschneider, Waite 368). From my own experiences, economic struggles from my mother forced me to go to school in ragged clothing, which subjected me to constant harassment from my peers. In “Can Marriage Be Saved?” Waite confronts her brother who left his wife and children and tells him that in marriage the kid’s emotional needs should come first. As a final point, in two parent households, children’s skill levels increase and ties and respect between parents and children are reinforced (Goldshneider, Waite 371).

In conclusion, I believe that a marriage between two people is also a marriage between those two people and their children. Marriage has a lot of benefits for all the parties involved and should not be broken up. Although some marriages are destined to end up in divorce, Waite states in “Can Marriage Be Saved?” that eighty six percent of unhappy couples that choose to stay together rather than get divorced are far happier five years later. Finally marriage, even when it’s going through tough times, is something worth holding onto.

Works Cited

Goldschneider, Frances K. and Linda J. Waite. “Alternative Family Values.” Writing in the Disciplines. Ed. Mary L. Kennedy, William J. Kennedy and Hadley M. Smith. Uppersaddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000: 364-371.

Griswold, Robert L. “Fatherhood and the Defense of Patriarchy.” Writing in the Disciplines. Ed. Mary L. Kennedy, William J. Kennedy, and Hadley M. Smith. Uppersaddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000: 374-378.

Harris, Elise. “Can Marriage Be Saved?” Lingua Franca 10.8 (November 2000) : http://www.linguafranca.com/print/0011/cover_marriage.html

Comments

  1. No matter what else is happening in life your spouse should feel like he or she matters the most to you. Your spouse should feel like you would do anything for him or her. Don’t leave any doubts about your commitment and love but consistently demonstrate it by your actions.

  2. I’m a Grand Rapids divorce attorney and I believe that getting a divorce should be a choice of very last resort. I highly recommend that couples with children to always seek counseling before ever considering a divorce for the sake of the kids. There has been new research that suggests that not only does divorce hurt emotionally, but will take a toll on one’s physical health.

    This research was published in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in the article, “Marital Biography and Health Midlife.” The research suggests divorce and widowhood can impact an individual’s health over the long term — even after a person remarries. “Among the currently married, those who have ever been divorced show worse health on all dimensions. Both the divorced and widowed who do not remarry show worse health on all dimensions,” said University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite and co-author of a new study on marriage and health.

    Check out the statistics on this study, it was based on 8,652 people aged 51 to 61.

    Divorced or Widowed:
    – Experience 20% more chronic health conditions (i.e. heart disease, diabetes or cancer than married people.)
    – Have 23% more mobility limitations (e.g. trouble climbing stairs or walking a block.)

    People who never Marry:
    – Have 12% more mobility limitations
    – Have 13% more depressive symptoms (but report no difference in the number of chronic health conditions from married people.)

    Divorced and Remarried:
    – 12% more reported chronic conditions
    – 19% more had mobility limitations.
    – Remarried group showed no greater depressive symptoms than those who are continuously married.

    One thing I am curious about is if there have been any studies out there on the physiological effects of couples who do choose to stay in an unhappy marriage with irreconcilable differences, what would be the long term effects on the children from such an estranged marriage or relationship.

    Being an attorney, I observe marriages experiencing high levels of financial stress which desiminates into the entire family. But, families who stay together and work through their financial problems can resolve financial issues by leveraging combined incomes. Additionally, they’re most likely to repair their marriage and develop a stronger relationship because they made it through tough times together.

    One last note to everyone who comes from a divorced family or single parent home…

    Never let your past define your future… you can overcome.

  3. The other force that kept divorce off the table for these couples was personal experience: “… they tended to compare the trials and tribulations of marriage to what they saw as the even greater trials and tribulations of divorce. Many pointed to a sibling’s or friend’s divorce to explain their reluctance.”

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