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Does the rate of US divorce indicate that divorce is connected to rising selfishness?

Updated on October 29, 2012

Why is the divorce rate in the US so high? Does selfishness have anything to do with it?

Divorce is an important topic as it touches deeply on the very fiber of a very basic foundation of our society, the family.

According to statistics at, 2004,  the divorce rate is 4.95 out of every 1,000 Americans per year, which is the highest in a comparative list of 34 countries. The latest (from provisionally-reported rate is for the 12 months ending in June, 2009,  placing the divorce rate at 3.4 divorces per 1000 population. A more common way to express it would be 0.34%; or, since there are two people in every divorce, 0.68% of the entire population got divorced during that 12-month period.  Meanwhile, cited Enrichment Journal’s report that in real terms the divorce rate in America is 41% for first marriage,  60% for second marriage, and 73% for third marriage. 

The above figures confirmed the observation that after WW2, divorce in the US surged briefly, followed by a decline. It again started to rise slowly in the 1960s and even more quickly in the 1970s.  Then, the growth leveled off in the 1980s and has since dropped to certain extent.  However, such gross statistics could still be considered generally high. 

In reply . . .

The pertinent question is “Why is the divorce rate in the US so high?”;  and, “Does selfishness have anything to do with it?”  Various studies on divorce revealed that a number of factors are involved which include, among others, childlessness or having daughters or a female child only and no son; infidelity and/or cohabitation; frequent money arguments; political color (red states or blue states); family background, e.g., having divorced parents; disturbing habits, e.g., smokers vs. non-smokers; differences in religion; serious sickness; age gap; IQ or education gap; etc..

The subject matter of divorce is essentially sensitive as it traverses certain issues of legal in character.  One straightforward reply could be -  the divorce rate is high because US is among the countries where the law allows divorce. Thus, from a legal standpoint, since an option is open, anyone who wants to get out of the marriage contract can exercise freely his or her legal rights.  The psychological and sociological consequences of this option are, however, significant and cannot be simply discounted. It was observed that countries where divorces are easily granted tend to have higher rates of divorce.

Does selfishness have anything to do with the high rate of divorce in the US? Anyone can only make a wild guess. Maybe it does or maybe it does not have any dent at all. In the absence of any statistical and empirical study,   a categorical answer would seem not possible.    Given a definition that the word “selfishness” means stinginess resulting from a concern for your own welfare and a disregard of others (, a quick answer could be simply – yes, it is possible that one cause for divorce is selfishness of both or either of the spouses concerned,  but to specify its extent and its direct effect on high US divorce rate would be very difficult to establish.  A contrary view can also be taken, and that is, going on separate ways and allowing the other partner to be free can also be regarded as an indication of the person’s selflessness.

An earlier observation in this article showed that the causes for divorce rate in the US are more complex and diverse.  It ranges from problems of childlessness, money issues, to incompatibility and differences in preferences and beliefs.  In divorce, as in any relationship related issues, it has always been the interplay of psychological dynamics with other factors such as sociological, etc..  In this scenario, selfishness could only be a symptom of a much deeper problem.

Spiritual view

From my readings, it was the teachings of Eckhart Tolle from his books (The Power of Now, The New Earth. Stillness Speaks) which provided me with the most plausible perspective on why the world is in its current state of disorder and why a dysfunction like divorce happens. He mentioned a lot about the world of forms and the formless, the illusion of time, the egoic (false) self, the pain bodies and the conditioning that we allow to dominate ourselves, etc.. Thus, when two people who are not conscious of these realities (are not awakened to their true selves and do not know yet who they really are, identifying themselves with forms) join themselves in marriage, the likelihood of problems like divorce to occur is great. In the end, the transformation of our individual and collective consciousness Is the key towards the transformation of our society.


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      gerald 5 years ago

      Interesting. I definitely think there are many factors and selfishness is certainly a part. But it's interesting to note also that the circumcision rate in the US is highest in the world, just like the divorce rate. Divorce shot way up in the 60s as a result of 1st gen. baby boomer. Circumcision affects sexuality and bonding. I think it causes mental confusion, as well as sexual resentment and feelings of rejection, and ambivalence. Certainly nobody asked to be circumcised as a baby. It is stealing from husband and wife. Don't be too quick to pounce until you study. Search out a matter. sexual unity and compatibility is important for relationship. Why they rob us of foreskin is beyond me. Europe has low circ rates and lower divorce. Could they be connected? Has any controlled study been done? If not, why not?

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      I don't know any answer to these question but from my own experience I tried to save the marriage and kept it on too long. I am still paying the price and so is our son.