Divorce is now a process that nearly half the married population will experience. Does that mean that half the population must hang its head and scuttle through the rest of life after divorce as abject failures living in anger and resentment? Certainly not.
What can Tolstoy tell us about this
The great Russian author Leo Tolstoy said in his novel Anna Karenina that "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Despite being written in 1878 when the world and marriage (divorce was nearly impossible) was very different, it still rings true today.
An unhappy family is very often one in which the relationship between the mother and father is anywhere between difficult and total collapse. That creates stress and tension and spreads unhappiness as thick as marmalade throughout the family.
Life was simpler then in terms of relationships, marriage was for life and only ended in death. If the marriage was in trouble then you were both expected to grin and bear it. Women were at a greater disadvantage because they had much less choice in the matter. Both in terms of social mores and the economic realities of being a divorced woman meant they were practically prisoners within the marriage.
Things are different and better now
Today things are very different in two significant respects. We live longer (life expectation has increased by 25 years over the last hundred years) and remain in better physical shape than we ever have. The economic situation of women has improved beyond recognition as well as the liberating effect of smaller families through contraceptive technology. These massive changes give women a close to equal position within the marriage
Divorce is difficult but it does not make you a failure
Given the massive changes in both lifestyle and life expectations it is very hard to imagine that two people can grow and develop over what might be fifty years and remain a loving and caring couple. If nearly half of marriages now end in divorce, isn't it time to conclude that statistically if not culturally, divorce is ‘normal'? No longer to be seen as a failure, divorce can be a realistic and frequently positive family option.
Relationship professionals should give advice to couples to divorce, as well as help them try to repair their marriages. Suggesting that deeply troubled families are better for child rearing than a divorced two-home couple that can co-parent collaboratively and effectively may not be a good idea.
The really important bit
Now this is the important bit, this will only really work if the divorced parents (of small children) have enough of their relationship left to be able to work together as parents. If that commitment is not there then it will just not work for your kids and if you fail your kids you have failed in a vital aspect of life after divorce.
Whether in one home or two, can the parents work together to be good parents? Tolstoy would probably say the family who can do this is the happy family.