The industrial revolution and the two World Wars, followed in quick succession by the Great Depression, have beckoned a vicissitude unknown for centuries. Society evolved and we are still reeling under its impact and trying to make sense of the whirlwind changes.
The industrial revolution initiated this process by inducting a huge workforce comprising of women. The two World Wars did their bit in hastening this social revolution. Many women had to step out of their homes to keep their home fires burning, while their men defended the national boundaries. With the termination of wars ensued the great depression and many more women joined the workforce to supplement the depleted financial resources.
Societal Change and Liberation of Women
At every juncture, the western women supported societal evolvement and this process transformed the very nature and role of a woman. She began managing a house, children and a job. Making a success on all these fronts required strenuous work lasting 14 to 15 hours a day. Burdened by this heavy pressure, they expected help from their men. When it was not forthcoming, heated arguments ensued and soon, constant conflicts eroded their marital love. This increased the rate of divorces for people began preferring disunion to a loveless marriage.
Thus, liberation of women inflated divorce rates. However, contrary to popular belief, it was not the freedom entailed by economic independence that led to these divorces. Rather, it was the unhappiness generated by working long hours that broke marriages down. Such situations could have been averted if only the men would have shared domestic responsibilities by throwing off the mantle of gender superiority.
Women began realising that it was not possible to lead for long, a life marked with self-sacrifice and began prioritising self over everything else.
Rise of Individualism
This led to a rise of individualism and both men and women relegated to the background the development of a relationship. They neither had the time nor inclination to invest in a marriage. This led to the development of a unique situation. People were married, but the bond of love that bound them together was weak. Any discord (in the form of marital problems) pressurised and broke the thin bond. Couples began divorcing for minor problems and they were aided in this process by the easy divorce laws.
Easy Divorce Laws
The Divorce Reform Act of 1969 came into effect in 1971 and since then the divorce graph had curved upwards. These easy laws gave the judges wider discretionary powers in terminating a marriage. It came to be widely believed that the pain caused by a divorce was much lesser than the pain caused by an abusive marriage which, in other words, meant a suffering of a lifetime.
These enacted reforms of the divorce laws and the subsequent increase in the number of divorces made many people question the necessity of easing the legal process of divorce. However, a fact worth mentioning here is that people do not terminate intimate relationships just because the law grants them the freedom to do so. Unhappily married people divorced for they sought happiness through seeking new marital partners.
Remarriages became easy as an increase in the rate of divorce populated society with millions of eligible singles. Three quarters of the divorced, opted for a second marriage, for good marriages are synonymous with happy living. People, who remarried, were wiser and careful to not repeat the same mistakes committed earlier.
However, those who entered the dating arena without getting rid of their emotional baggage entailed by the initial divorce, found it difficult to make a success of their second wedding either. They divorced once again, but friends and family accepted it nonchalantly.
The Absence of a Divorce Stigma
The increase in the rate of divorces has eliminated the stigma attached to it and divorced people are no longer termed social misfits. Celebrities and even rulers of nations relinquished unhappy marital ties and began replacing them with new relationships. The absence of the stigma made divorces easier.
Thus, the increase in the rate of divorce is an offshoot of societal metamorphosis, and no one factor can be held responsible for such a change. However, this high rate of divorces can be reduced by educating people about its associated ills.