DIVORCE AND SEPARATION: Conditions, Causes, and Consequences by George & Oliver Moles--Eds. Levinger

DIVORCE AND SEPARATION: Conditions, Causes, and Consequences

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What academics are presently learning about divorce--history, social, psychological, and economic determinants, its consequences for spouses and children--in respectable, dry academic form. Most of the articles follow a rigid format of problem, method, data, and conclusions, the most successful among them relying on respondents' voices to supply the missing emotion. Janet Kohen, Carol Brown, and Roslyn Feldbert explore the ""social limbo"" of the ""non-wife"" through interviews with 30 divorced mothers--some of whom evince resentment toward their ex-husbands (one speaks of the burden of ""keeping his life stable and positive when my own seemed negative and unstable""), while others simply express relief. For many the costs of divorce are primarily economic, the benefits manifold--a new-found ""freedom to please themselves,"" control over finances, authority within the family, even an improved self-concept. On a different note, Dennis Jaffe and Rosabeth Kanter explore the marital strains that often develop within communal settings: couples who expect their marriages to take on new dimensions instead encounter problems, the result of ""incongruent expectations, sex role conflicts, and outside sexual involvements."" Charles Hill, Zick Rubin, and Letitia Ann Peplau broaden the discussion by examining premarital separations; even if ""the best divorce is the one you get before you get married,"" unwed couples, like the unhappily wed, demonstrate a marked ""unwillingness to disengage."" Finally, as regards a recent change in divorce patterns--the rise in fathers With custody--Kelin Gersick finds that the 20 men with custody he interviewed differed from the 20 without in having felt more distance as children from their own fathers--a distance they hope to minimize in raising their own children. While Gersick comments that the difficulties these ""single fathers"" face resemble those traditionally associated with single mothers, most writers in this volume agree that the sexes differ in their experience of divorce. More women than men initiate divorce, men tend to feel more at a loss emotionally, and more men remarry than do women. These sociologists and psychologists see women's increasing education and career options as upping their bargaining position in divorce, yet admit that the chips are still primarily in the husband's hands. No final solutions are offered, as Jessie Bernard admits in the introduction. Professionals, however, will find this a useful presentation of the problems.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1979
Publisher: Basic Books