marriage never ends, particularly if there are children. It may be legally broken, but the ties inevitably go on for a while, sometimes for a lifetime.
The problem of regaining autonomy is related to the extent to which autonomy was given up in the partnership. Men and women who continued to retain a great deal of individual autonomy in their partnership will have less difficulty upon divorce. (It is also less likely that they will divorce in the first place, however.) Regaining autonomy means
. . . learning to live without somebody to lean on--but also without someone to support. There is nobody on whom to blame one's difficulties (except oneself), nobody to short-stop one's growth and nobody to grow with.
Each must regain--if he [or she] ever had it--the dependence on self and faith in one's own capacity to cope with the environment, with people, with thoughts and emotions.25
There is evidence that "divorce breeds divorce" in the sense that restrictions on obtaining divorces influence the rate of divorce, although the data on this issue is far from clear. Nevertheless, the trend toward increased divorce rates need not be a cause for alarm. Qualitatively, there is reason to believe that divorce, whatever its frequency, is preferable to conflicted, destructive partnerships. As Max Reinstein observes:
If we regard family stability as a social good, a situation of high incidence of marriage breakdown constitutes a social evil. Its reduction deserves to be an aim of social policy. But what about divorce? It does not occur by itself but only as a sequel to marriage breakdown. Insofar as divorce opens the door to legitimate remarriage and thus to the creation of new homes free of any taint of illegitimacy, It is a social good rather than an evil. But if the easy availability of divorce is conducive toward a high incidence of marriage breakdown, good social policy requires that the incidence of divorce ought also to be reduced.26
Because we know so little about how nonmarital partnerships terminate, in this chapter we have chosen to focus exclusively on how marriages end. Following Goode, we can describe five types of family disorganization: the uncompleted family, the empty shell, the family disorganized by external catastrophes, the family disorganized by internal catastrophes, and those terminated by willed departures such as divorce.
Although death terminates more marriages than any other cause, divorce receives the most publicity. Currently, one divorce takes place each year for every three marriages that are contracted in that year. While 81 percent of all married persons have been married only once,____________________