Making Marriage Work: A History of Marriage and Divorce in the Twentieth-Century United States

By Kristin Celello | Go to book overview

3
THEY LEARNED
TO LOVE AGAIN
MARRIAGE SAVING IN THE 1950S

In 1958 Divorce Hearing debuted in syndication on television, “presented in the belief that divorce is America’s greatest danger in the home and the community… and that understanding is the greatest weapon against divorce.”1 The program was the brainchild of Paul Popenoe, who had become a national celebrity thanks to his monthly feature in the Ladies’ Home Journal and regular appearances on Art Linkletter’s House Party. Each episode of the show featured two couples who had filed for divorce in real life. Standing before Popenoe in a courtroom setting, each spouse took a turn describing their path to marital breakdown. In one episode, for instance, a Mrs. G. alleged that her husband of two years had been “playing around” with a local beauty shop owner. She hired a private investigator, who confirmed her suspicions. Mr. G., however, argued that the investigator was a “phony” and that “he had heard about jealous women but his wife is in a class by herself.” Sadly, Mr. G. still loved his wife and their daughter, but he believed that “under the conditions” it would be best for them to divorce.2

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