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Divorce is Down: Are Couples More Happy?

January 21, 2010

I found this article at It starts off with:

That caught my eye, especially “even though the population is growing.” (Population growth should be a good thing!) The gist is that in these rough economic times, it’s just too costly to divorce. Who would’ve thought that we would have to go through a financial crisis to find out that family life isn’t all that bad, even if we do have bumps in the road along the way.

The article states:

And so we have a secular view on keeping a marriage together. Marriage is good for maintaining wealth. The children bring satisfaction to the union. Marrieds just need to find ways to get past the boredom of a long-term commitment. And if you work through your marital problems you will most likely be more happy than if you would have gotten a divorce.
All this then brings me to G. K. Chesterton, The Apostle of Common Sense. I have been reading through Dale Ahlquist’s book, which contains a summary of a number of Chesterton’s works. Chesterton states over and over again that the family is the core unit of society. When the family is destroyed then it is just a matter of time before the rest of society fails as well. We are in the midst of that failure. But maybe, just maybe, this financial crisis that we are going through will awaken the populace to see that what they have at home is their most valuable possession, their family.
Here are some excerpts of what Ahlquist has to say about Chesterton’s collection of essays called The Well and the Shallows:
The Well and the Shallows was published in 1935, and it could easily be called More of the Thing, because once again, Chesterton connects “The Thing” to everything else. “The Thing” is the Catholic faith, which is not just a religious doctrine but a complete and integrated world view. Chesterton argues that all other religious, political, and social ideas are not only enemies of the Church but enemies of mankind.
Modern man thinks freedom means breaking the rules, but, as Chesterton points out, freedom means exercising free will to obey the rules. Without freedom there is no such thing as obedience and responsibility. We are not forced to obey. We choose. That is what gives us our dignity. We make a vow by choice. Freedom means keeping that vow, no matter how difficult, not breaking it, no matter now compelling.
This freedom to keep a vow no matter how difficult sounds a lot like working through marital problems. There’s a certain dignity in freely striving to make something work that you freely decided to commit to in the first place.
Tying this to the recession, we find that Chesterton was no fan of capitalism. Ahlquist goes on to say:
But, surprisingly, Chesterton says, what has done more to destroy the family in the modern world, even before the State got in on the act, is a rampant and unbridled capitalism.
Chesterton says there is no way out of the modern tangle, except for independent people and independent families to live simpler lives. That means learning how to be content with less,  so that we can be more content. To be content is to be free.
And so you see we need to be content with ourselves, with our families.  This recession is showing us that we can’t have everything all of the time. The ads will try to convince you otherwise, but stuff is just stuff and family is family. Play ball with your kids, read a book with your spouse (read Chesterton!), plant a family garden and care for it together. You don’t need the latest gadget to make you and your family happy and content; you just need to spend time with one another.
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