People’s Reasons for Divorcing: Gender, Social Class, the Life Course, and Adjustment

People’s Reasons for Divorcing- Gender, Social Class, the Life Course, and AdjustmentPeople’s Reasons for Divorcing: Gender, Social Class, the Life Course, and Adjustment

PAUL R. AMATO DENISE PREVITI
The Pennsylvania State University

We used national panel data collected between 1980 and 1997 to classify 208 people’s open- ended responses to a question on why their marriages ended in divorce. Infidelity was the most commonly reported cause, followed by incompatibility, drinking or drug use, and growing apart. People’s specific reasons for divorcing varied with gender, social class, and life course variables. Former husbands and wives were more likely to blame their ex-spouses than themselves for the problems that led to the divorce. Former husbands and wives claimed, however, that women were more likely to have initiated the divorce. People who at- tributed the cause of the divorce to the relationship itself, rather than to internal (self) or ex- ternal factors, tended to have the best postdivorce adjustment.

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