Does Recession Slow Divorce?


You might think financial troubles would drive couples apart.

You would be right – but paradoxically, that doesn’t in turn lead to more divorces. In tough times, many people find it’s cheaper to stay together, according to reports here and here. Divorce means setting up two households, and middle-class couples who are barely getting by can’t afford that luxury. Across the country, state courts report declines in divorce and separation filings.

Even after a divorce, some couples are continuing to live together because they can’t sell their house. A Denver couple divorced last January but moved back in together after their home drew no buyers. They sleep in separate bedrooms, watch TV at opposite ends of the house and endure many awkward silences. Other couples formalize their split in other ways: one researcher tells of a couple who hung a heavy tarp right across the middle of their household.

Job loss and sharp fluctuations of income place heavy strain on any marriage, the Council on Contemporary Families reports. And as Jeff Opdyke, The Wall Street Journal’s “Love and Money” columnist, reports in his forthcoming book, “Financially Ever After: The Couples’ Guide to Managing Money,” too many couples enter marriage without the necessary tools even to talk about money without anger, frustration and hurt seeping into the conversation.

Other times, however, fights over money are merely a proxy for other, deeper issues in a marriage, such as a power struggle, jealousy or a loss of intimacy.

Readers, have you found ways to insulate your marriage from financial stress? And if you were considering divorce, would a lack of money be enough to stave it off?

(Posted by Sue Shellenbarger The Wall Street Journal )

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