In the last 20 years, rates of divorce have risen significantly in Western countries. Critically analyse some of the different explanations given for this phenomenon. In your discussion you should consider what implications these explanations might have for social policy. For this essay I would focus on why rates of divorce have increased in Western countries. To answer this question, I would give my own critical explanation, focusing on what I know from experience are the reasons why couples choose to divorce. I would then interview a number of divorced people I know asking them what the reasons were for the breakdown of their marriage. I would then consider current social policies relating to divorce and find out how well the people I interview have coped since they were divorced. If a couple decides to divorce, a number of major transitions of lifestyle and outlook have to be made. A series of interviews which Robert Weiss carried out with divorced men and women in the US showed a definite 'trajectory of divorce' (Weiss, 1976). Women suffer from a divorce far more than men on an economic level, but the process of psychological and social adjustment seems similar for both sexes. In the majority of instances Weiss studied, the respect and liking a couple may have felt for one another disappears some while before they separate. At the same time, a sense of being bound emotionally to the other person persists. Thus even though a couple may row bitterly just before parting, they tend to experience what Weiss calls separation distress. The sudden absence of the spouse creates feelings of anxiety and panic. A minority of individuals however have an opposite experience - a feeling of euphoria in response to being free and able to deal with their lives on their own.
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