Saturday, October 02, 2021

Divorce is an Act of Radical Self-Love

I mentioned that Jewish law very different ideas about marriage and family, and now a NY Times essay explains:
Divorce Can Be an Act of Radical Self-Love
Sept. 30, 2021

By Lara Bazelon

Ms. Bazelon is a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law and the author of the forthcoming book “Ambitious Like a Mother.”

I used to believe that divorce is a terrible thing, particularly when children are involved. Growing up, I absorbed cultural tropes about absent fathers in efficiency apartments, mothers struggling to support themselves, and awful stepparents and unwanted stepsiblings. To this day, divorce is portrayed as precarious and grim. Parents whose marriages break apart are made to feel they have failed catastrophically. Divorce is shameful, traumatic and Bad For The Kids.

But I’ve learned that divorce can also be an act of radical self-love that leaves the whole family better off. …

Recently I asked my daughter, now 10, how she felt. She told me: “Some of my friends spend more time with their parents, but I have to give you a lot of credit because those kids are in two-parent families. Our criminal justice system is horrible and messed up, and you are trying to help it get fixed.”

Wow, she seems to really believe that radical self-love is a good thing, and that her daughter is persuade of the goodness of divorce because mom is a law professor pursuing Jewish social justice work.

Bazelon is the grand-daughter of a famous Jewish judge who actively worked to change American law.

An anonymous describes the result of this sort of thinking:

Legally, marriage is fundamentally broken. I would be interested if anyone has insight into how family law has changed over the years, but what is clear is that it creates all the wrong incentives. There are no negative consequences to divorce, and least for the non-breadwinner (typically the woman). To the contrary: there’s only upside for her. Divorce gets her 1) independence 2) custody of the kids 3) half of the man’s assets 4) typically the house and 5) abundant financial support in the form of alimony and child support. Why would she *not* get divorced at the earliest chance, at the first spat or bump in the road? She’d be crazy not to. Why would she not explode her own relationship by withholding sex, or being nasty, or humiliating her spouse in public, or having an affair? It’s no skin off her nose. She has all the power, she knows it, and the way she treats him proves it.

Given these incentives, unsurprisingly, most divorce is initiated by women: men don’t want to lose their house, kids and retirement. They don’t want to support an ungrateful woman in perpetuity while she sleeps with other men in the home he built. I would wager that the majority of husband-initiated divorces are, essentially, because she’s become so unbearable and his life so miserable that he’ll do anything to escape. Or, he has nothing to lose perhaps because he was smart enough to get a prenup.

In any event, and being as blame neutral as possible: the correct construction of a “life long” commitment is not to architect it such that by its very design it incentivizes one or both parties to blow it up. Crazy that this is not already the case.

Besides these points, marriage has become godless and often childless. If you’re not gonna have kids, why get married? So you can throw a big wedding party and she gets to be a narcissistic princess for a day? A marriage which isn’t about something bigger than yourself, like god, children and the union of two families, is vapid, narcissistic and built on sand. The marriages which still work are those in deeply religious communities who ostracize the women who initiate divorce or otherwise become so nasty as to justify it. Secular marriage is completely broken. It’s no surprise that most fail.

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