Relationships

How Our Parents' Divorces Ruined Love For An Entire Generation

By Molly Farinholt··  5 min read
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How Our Parents' Divorces Ruined Love For An Entire Generation

Growing up, I didn’t realize what a gift it was that my parents were happily married. Their love was (and still is) a beautiful witness to me and my brothers. We were able to see, from a young age, the fruits of a life lived in true communion with another.

Unfortunately, this is no longer the norm. Today, almost 50% of marriages in the United States will end in divorce or separation. Every 13 seconds, a divorce is finalized. These statistics are tragic for many reasons — the first being that marriage, the glue of society, is no longer held as sacred in our country. What was once a beacon and stronghold of love, fidelity, and stability in our society has been ravaged by the sexual revolution, an ever-increasing faithlessness, and the me-first attitude. 

Sadly, the effects of divorce extend far beyond the separated spouses. Children are the unfortunate casualty of divorce, and now an entire generation has been hugely impacted by broken households. 

Generation X became the first generation where it was normal to have divorced parents. 

Baby Boomers, born into the age of rock n’ roll and the sexual revolution, rebelled against their parents’ generation — one that upheld marriage as a blessed union for life. Also known as the “Me Generation,'' the Baby Boomers largely placed individual aspirations before family life. No-fault divorce came about in this era, and divorces skyrocketed. To this day, Baby Boomers divorce more than any other age group. This has impacted subsequent generations. 

Generation X became the first generation where it was normal to have divorced parents. While Gen Xers married at later ages than their parents, they tended to stay together. 

Now Millennials are painting an entirely different picture of marriage. Many happily proclaim the statistics that show that Millennials are lowering the U.S. divorce rate. However, when one dives deeper into these stats, we see that Millennials are also lowering the marriage rate. Half of Millennials are not married. Fearful of both commitment and divorce (ironic), they’re putting off marriage. The average age for Millennial men who said “I do” was 30 in 2019. For women, it was 28. Cohabitating and prenups have become far more common than in previous generations. An estimated 25% of Millennials will never tie the knot. Millennials are skeptical of true love — in large part due to the fact that it was not modeled for them by preceding generations. 

Fearful of both commitment and divorce, Millennials are putting off marriage.

This skepticism has not just impacted marriage; it has also colored the modern dating scene. We asked our readers how their parents’ divorces impacted their dating/love lives and their life in general. Here are some of the responses: 

My Mom and I Are at Odds

“I’m getting married this year and firmly believe that marriage is ‘til death do us part. My parents are divorced, and it has been difficult for me to reconcile my convictions on marriage with the decisions of my mother and father. My relationship with my mom has been especially rocky, because she feels victimized by what I hold to be true.” - Anonymous 

It Affected My Mental Health

“My parents’ divorce deeply affected my and my siblings’ mental health… We all have poor coping skills, and we have very poor emotional expressivity (meaning we don’t really know how to fully or properly express our emotions)... I feel strongly that… before they seek a divorce, a couple — especially if that couple has a child/children — they should seek therapy/counseling/mediation before jumping to divorce. The repercussions of divorce in children are deep and tragic.” - Ana J. 

My siblings used our parents’ bad divorce as a warning on what to avoid and what to work on.

I Didn’t Want To Get Married

“My parents’ divorce was really ugly and hard on all of us kids. For me, it made me not want to ever be married, but once I grew up more, I realized their marriage wasn’t strong because both of them didn’t work on it enough or base their relationship on something higher than just themselves (i.e. God, familial unity, etc.). They were the type of people to throw away something meaningful if it didn’t work for them the way it used to. My younger siblings all have used our parents’ bad divorce and subsequent relationships as a warning on what to avoid and what to work on in their own lives. I’m now happily married to a man that believes, like me, that marriage is a lifelong, sacred commitment and always a work in progress. Maybe other people’s failings can affect you positively.” - Karissa

It’s Been 16 Years of Healing 

“My fiancé and I are both children of divorce, and we don’t look to our parents for marriage advice. We look to Biblical marriages… It’s been 16 years of work to heal and fix what [my parents] did to my perspective on marriage. Getting married has been terrifying to me in a lot of ways, but knowing that my relationship is not the same and is based on more than what my parents had [has been helpful].” - Ally S. 

I grew to distrust men. I came to believe that my father’s infidelity was a characteristic of all men.

I Didn’t Trust Men

“After my parents divorced, I grew to distrust men. I came to believe that my father’s infidelity was a characteristic of all men. I couldn’t imagine a happy, committed marriage. I swore off most romantic relationships for a long time. Eventually, though, I met a man who undid all of that damage by respecting me and loving me in a pure and honest way. We are now happily married!” - Anonymous 

Closing Thoughts

Divorce has negatively impacted our entire culture. Many no longer believe that love is a choice that we make day in and day out. Instead, we have been told to run from any challenges that arise. The tide can be turned, though, through a generation deciding once again that marriage is a sacred, lifelong union between a man and a woman. 

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