In American Society, people want only what is good for themselves, even if it’s not the best for someone else. Society has changed from the importance of family to the importance of me. Statistics on marriage and divorce show that Americans have gotten lazier and more self-absorbed. This may explain why the U.S. has the highest divorce rate and the highest rate of solo parenting in the Western world. People have the attitude, “If the marriage doesn’t work, I can get a divorce,” because it’s easier to fill out paperwork than to put in the time and effort to make the marriage work.
While there are many different reasons for divorce, a few are common: poor communication, financial issues, lack of commitment, infidelity and a change in priorities. With the exception of financial issues, the reasons point to the selfish attitude of one or more people in the relationship. Communication is only a problem when someone doesn’t want to listen. Commitment to the marriage requires work and compromise, words that are not found in the lazy, egotistical American dictionary. Sneaking out on a spouse to be fulfilled by someone else is not only dishonest, but selfish. People that cheat are looking for a quick fix to make themselves happier all while disregarding the feelings of their partner. Changing priorities is also a quick fix. People who give up on marriage feel that it can’t be changed for the better, so they concentrate on changing something else in their lives, like concentrating on work or a new hobby. Having something else to concentrate their energy on creates temporary happiness and a way to escape the troubles at home.
According to The State of Our Unions, 2005, marriages have declined 50% from 1970, because more people are choosing cohabitation, or living together without a legal commitment, over marriage. Marriage is being replaced by cohabitation because it requires less of a commitment. Cohabitating couples have twice the breakup rate of married couples because there is less reason to work on the relationship. With cohabitation people don’t have to worry about the legal repercussions of divorce and leaving is as easy as packing. Studies have proved that cohabitating before marriage increases the chances of divorce up to 85%, so even if live-in couples eventually marry, it is likely that they will divorce.
Parents don’t take the needs of their children into consideration over their own needs as often as they should. 40% of cohabitating couples bring children into the relationship, creating less stability for the children and teaching them that relationships don’t require commitment. Children from divorce are more likely to develop social problems and their grades are 20% lower than students living with both parents. The U.S. has the lowest number of children who grow up with both biological parents among Western nations, 63%.
Society should value family over the individual. The American attitude needs to be changed because commitment and responsibility are becoming second to personal needs. If people thought of “us” more then “me,” there would be more happy marriages. People need to accept that relationships take time and work, not only for themselves, but for the well-being of their children.