Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

Why Do Boomers Divorce So Much More Than Everyone Else?

Boomers are bucking the trend toward fewer divorces. So why are they divorcing so much more often than everyone else? One view is that they are innovators with high standards for their conjugal partners. That would be so boring if boomers went from transformers of society to garden-variety matrimaniacs. Read More

It's not just babyboomers

The vast majority of those I've known in my Generation X have been divorced or never married because either they couldn't hack a relationship or else they couldn't find another person who could. Most of Gen-X has divorced, remarried, maybe divorced a second time or just go from one relationship and one baby daddy to the next. It's like that with both hetero and homosexual Gen-X none known how to have good relationships. What few my age who are married are absolutely miserable. I think it's because they don't know how to discern who is truly compatible with them.

Corporate economy of the time

Along with the booming economy came a corporate lifestyle in which employees were mindlessly shuffled about between offices in other cities. We went from a society where people worked where they lived, to one where they lived where they worked. It became routine to scatter extended families all over the country. Insular nuclearity was born (see Singled Out) as the result of it being pointless to make friends or become part of a community when the breadwinner was going to be transferred in 2 years anyway.
I was born in 1964, my “wasband” in 1951. We were best friends and somehow that meant we had to get married. I took 3 years off from college to put him through grad school, working a backbreaking retail management job. I went back to school when he got a job, and he lost his job just before I graduated. Rather than get an entry-level job in my field, I went back to the retail management job because it would support us both—barely. It took 2 years for him to get another job, with a big corporation. The company bounced us around the region but it wasn’t a big deal, my company could always find a place for me and I had friends scattered up and down the I-5 corridor. I was always moving closer to someone even as I moved farther away from someone else. Finally we settled in one city for a while and I was able to get a good, high-paying job with a company I liked, where I worked with two of my best friends. Then he got transferred out of the region altogether, to his company’s HQ. I fought the move tooth and nail. My family thought I was terrible for not standing by my man. Finally I caved and went. Jobs in my field did not exist in that part of the country, and no one would hire me for anything better than minimum wage because of my history of bouncing around every 2 years. After working as a receptionist and enduring a community that felt like the clock had been wound back 20 years, I fled with one suitcase and got an entry-level job back in my home region. I started my career at 38, 15 years behind my peers.
Girls in my generation, or at least in my home, were raised to believe that they could be anything they wanted to be. Women were waking up to their potential, yet marriage still meant sublimating that potential to the dominant career in the partnership, usually the husband’s. No wonder so many women rejected marriage.

well-said

Good points, and sorry you had trouble posting this. To all readers: if you try repeatedly to post a comment and it never appears, let me know and I'll see if I can find help.

I think we're the first

I think we're the first generation that would admit that marriage is a bad deal for everyone.

With legal restrictions and obstacles removed in the 70's, people could finally do something about being miserable.

Unfortunately, for men, at that time, men were still the main breadwinner, so the divorce laws focused on the man to be financially responsible for the whole mess.

The next wave in divorce will come when these laws are eliminated or made fair and people (especially men) will be able to afford to divorce.

I'd get divorced in a heartbeat, but I can't afford it because my wife is completely dependent on my income.

I wouldn't mind paying alimony, she earned it, but if I ever lost my job, I could be sent to jail for being unable to pay.

Every day I'm sorry I got married -- it is a miserable way to live.

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Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., is author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She is a visiting professor at UCSB.

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