Tara Tiger Brown

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just prowling around

Is Divorce to be Expected in your 30s?

I’m not part of any divorce groups or really advertise that I myself am divorced, but for some reason around 30% of the people I interact with lately – both new and old – are divorced within the last year or in the process of .  All of them are in my age group – 30s, and most were with their spouse for more than 5 years. I have found this to be almost unbelievable at times and I’m wondering what the deal is.

These fellow divorcees aren’t acquaintenances either, some include my roommate, the dood I’m dating, close friends in Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver.  It’s gotten to the point that I’m surprised when someone that I haven’t seen for a long time tells me they are still with their spouse as opposed to not.

It’s both good and bad to be surrounded by people with similar circumstances to me.  Good in that I can talk to others about what I’m going through and they are a wonderful, empathetic support system.  Bad in that I am constantly reminded of my situation because the topic of conversation typically shifts to the latest drama with the ex.

What I really want to touch on here is this – if 30% of my friends are separated or divorced and in their 30s, what is the total number of people in the US or beyond?  It has to be staggering.  Is this a case of getting married too early…ie in our 20s?  Is it a case of independence and liberation and more options because of the Internet?  Are people less willing to “settle” these days?

I don’t have the answers but I am definitely going to explore this topic more and would love to get any feedback.

Namaste

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Filed under: life, , ,

9 Responses

  1. Clintus says:

    Kind of scary to think about for me. My wife and I are going on 5 years of marriage this year and I’ll be 27. But I would be curious what results you find. I definitely think times have changed and people are feel that it’s easier to just move on than work things out. There are more choices for everyone and everything we do.

    PS Had no idea you were in your 30’s. Wow.

  2. Sean Bonner says:

    I wrote a post that kind of touched on some of this last December.

    http://blog.seanbonner.com/2007/12/02/fly-in-the-disappointment/

    I was in a very different headspace then obviously, but the part I wrote about people getting divorced a lot applies to this discussion. I wrote:

    “There was a time when marriage meant “for as long as you both shall live.” That’s not a cliche, there was a point in history when people did in fact stay together for the rest of their lives when they got married. If people had problems they worked them out because they were stuck with that person for ever. That changed at some point, and as I was explaining to a friend a few months back, the fact that people now have the option to get a divorce and not be a social outcast, or maybe find something better has become a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts. If you have no choice, you find ways to make things work, if you have a choice, that is always on the table somewhere and eventually it’s more appealing than fixing whatever problem is at hand.”

    I don’t want to be mister negative and I’m not trying throw a wet blanket on the idea, but that’s the feeling I get after, as you said, I keep meeting people who are in some stage of getting divorced and talking to them about it and how things got to that stage.

    The 30’s thing is a different idea, I think it’s kind of a turning point of sorts. I think people get married a lot in their 20’s because that’s just the next logical step in growing up. People moved out of their parents house, they graduated school, they got a job, and if they’ve been dating someone for a few years and it seems to be working the next step being marriage seems to make sense. (on the other end of this spectrum I know more than a few couples who got married in the last 12 months because, as told to me by one of them, “we’ve been dating for x years, so why not?”) I think people are getting divorced because they can, where as I also think people are getting married not because they are madly in love and can’t imagine spending a minute without that person, but just because that’s what they are expected to do.

    So, if folks got married in their 20’s and issues have been building up for a few years, once they hit their 30’s people start thinking that if they are going to make a change and have a new start in their life it better be soon. I guess I get the feeling that in your 30’s you are still young enough to start over all together, where as 40’s or 50’s your course is a lot more locked in and harder to start from scratch. Of course I’m in my 30’s so that could be a completely skewed perspective.

  3. In my 30s: check
    Married for longer than 5 years: check
    Recently divorced: check

    When I got divorced a lot of my tech startup friends told me their divorce stories. It seems that a lot of people in their 30s start their own companies or get wrapped up in their own projects and neglect their marriages. So problems which were manageable before were left untended and ended up completely breaking down right at the time when stress and work overload provide convenient excuses and escape.

    It seems that a lot of the startup folks sleeping under their desks are there because it’s easier than facing their families.

  4. Rick Rey says:

    Found this off Clintus’ shared list. Reminds me of a book my ex-girlfriend raved about called The Starter Marriage (20 somethings married 5 years or less with no kids). IMO it really comes down to unrealistic expectations and people’s impatience to reach a non-existent “relationship climax.” A lot of it has to do with marketing, too. The wedding business is big business.

    Personally speaking there’s a strong chance I may never get married, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in finding a partner or having a family. I think if we stop reinforcing the need to tie the knot – especially at such an early age – people will stop focusing on distractions like wedding invitations and registry lists, and pay more attention to the person across the table.

  5. loi1916 says:

    7 year itch…I swear its true and alot of people don’t know that love, passion etc changes many time during a life long marriage and that how you view and prioritize changes. So about 7 years in, totally failiar, a kid or two, the adolesecent passion has totally worn off and the old show feeling comes in. Some know how to spin it and see the good of wiating it out and others run for the next just passion long term relationship….

    7 year itch….I’m not kidding

  6. loi1916 says:

    ok, I cant type…clearly I meant familiar NOT failiar and shoe NOT show and drop that extra e from adolescent while you’re at it I can’t spell waiting either apparently…..

  7. Dave says:

    Check, though I’m only 29.

    IMHO I think it might have to do with our increasingly complex lives and our incessant search for perfection…not sure if this is a good or bad thing.

    Back in the day, women and men remained trapped in “unhappy” relationships both out of a sense of commitment but also out of a sense of not having as many alternatives.

    Nowadays, we are both cursed and blessed with the gift of more options. Our parents told us that the world is our oyster, and in many real senses we have the potential to take that promise and turn it into reality in ways like never before.

    But when it comes to our relationships that sometimes results in creating perhaps unrealistic expectations…we think that the grass will be greener on the other side.

    And. Maybe it will be. I hope that it will. I haven’t given up that idealism yet…maybe that is what happens once we hit our 40’s. The dreaming stops and good enough becomes just that.

    My 2 cts.

  8. I can attest to much of what you have written here. Not from first hand experience myself but from knowing some people that have gone through it.

    I am 34. I have been married for 13 years to my high school sweetheart. She is 32.

    We have had our share of ups and downs. There have been times that both of us have wanted out and an occasion or two in which she almost walked out. But I have to say that both of us have been very willing to hear each other out and make changes within ourselves that directly affect each other.

    Identifying each others’ needs and striving daily to meet those needs is a big time commitment that cannot be overlooked in a relationship. Taking time to truly try to understand what your spouse is telling you, not as an attack or accusation but as something that he/she feels, is also a requirement.

    Marriage has been a challenging and sometimes troubling road for my wife and I. And I would certainly say we are in the minority of people that have been married once, married for a while and married young. My heart goes out to anyone who has been divorced. It is a hard thing to go through. It can be avoided, in my opinion, but avoiding divorce requires commitment and selflessness on the part of both spouses. When one isn’t willing the marriage is doomed for failure.

    Fortunately for many there are second chances in life. And if there is anything that a bad relationship can teach you is what you really want and don’t want out of a relationship. If you can at least come to grips with that then I would suspect that when it comes time to enter into a new relationship the old one will not sting as much.

    But once again, I do not have first hand experience at this so from the divorce angle it is all speculation from me.

  9. Jenna says:

    Family and friend pressure in dating and relationships is still around but the realization that life is too short to be unhappy is something our grandparents channeled into making the best out of what they have. Now, not only is life too short to be unhappy, modern life is too lonely to spend it exclusively with someone unpleasant. To make the most out of unhappy marriage when you have no community is pretty impossible, if not foolish.

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