But the Laura Doyles of the world still insist that staying together in a marriage is the outcome to be wished for in nearly all circumstances. It never occurs to them that human beings have only recently been involved in the experiment of staying together over periods of up to 50 years or even more – trying to keep a marriage going long after children have been raised. With the vicissitudes of modern life, from relocation to job insecurity and harmful work/family balance trends (particularly in the U.S.), not to mention the sheer passage of time and divergence of personalities and interests, the idea of a one-size-fits-all-forever union ought to be recognized as unrealistic for many. For some couples, the marathon marriage might make sense, and good for them. For others, the benefits of separating when a marriage no longer works clearly outweigh the costs of staying together.
A 2004 study by Stanford Business School discovered fascinating facts about how no-fault divorce impacted women:
20% reduction in female suicide after 20 years (none for men)
33% reduction in domestic violence against women (after a rise in other states vs. a drop in no-fault states)
Decline in the domestic murder rate for women (none for men)
As we’ve seen with gay marriage, attitudes toward the institution are changing and slowly adapting to the realities of modern life, no matter what the Catholic Church and the Laura Doyles have to say about it. For women still facing stigma and blame in divorce, let’s hope we can speed the process.