Despite the increase of research on divorce, relatively little is known about such topics as how men adjust to divorce compared with women, how blacks adjust compared to whites, and what divorce adjustment looks like over time. Filling a gap in the literature, PORTRAIT OF DIVORCE presents a comprehensive and detailed report on the causes and consequences of divorce. Inclusive in its scope, the book covers the period of estrangement through the divorce process and on to 4 years after the couples separated. The work is based on the integration of original data with over 50 years of prior research. In addition, it contrasts divorcing people with a comparable sample of people who remain in intact marriages.
The book opens with a discussion of today's changing attitudes about marriage and the resulting mixed view of divorce. A new model of divorce adjustment--one that integrates the pathology and crisis models of adjustment and includes elements of loss and change--is outlined. The four sources of study data used for the book are described, as are the ways in which such key elements as subjective distress, attachment, self-esteem, and illness contacts were measured. To address the issue of comparability of the married samples, background characteristics of the suburban, reconciled, and marital transition samples are examined. Also, "risk factors" that have been thought predispose those who divorce are explored.
Having laid the groundwork, subsequent chapters cover the processes of the relationship estrangement that occurs within marriage, and various "causes" of divorce including legal definitions, psychological correlates, and marital complaints. The effect of divorce on physical and mental health and the implications of age and other life events on the ability to adjust are described. Parents' initial perceptions of the impact of divorce on their children are reported, as are changes in their perceptions over time. Other topics include economic factors, social support systems, and life after divorce. Finally, analyses are presented that illustrate what factors are associated with better and worse adjustment to divorce for blacks and whites, and men and women, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally.
Adding immeasurably to our understanding about the causes and consequences of divorce, this volume will be valued by clinicians who work with the divorced, community psychologists, child and family development scholars, and and sociologists interested in family and health. Well written and clearly organized, it also serves as a classroom text for students in these fields.
Gay C. Kitson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and a Senior Fellow in the Institute for Life-Span Development and Gerontology at the University of Akron in Ohio. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. A member of the editorial board of the Journal of Marriage and the Family, and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Family Issues, she also served as one of the collaborating authors on the book Familial Organization: A Quest for Determinants by Robert F. Finch. Currently, she is conducting research on how women cope with the death of their husbands from violent causes such as homicide, suicide, and accidents.
William M. Holmes is Director of the Statistical Analysis Center for Massachusetts and supervises evaluation of drug enforcement grants in the Commonwealth. In addition to studies on divorce, his research has covered topics of domestic violence, delinquency, child abuse, and drug abuse. Currently, he is working on a study of hate crimes in Massachusetts and a study of changes in domestic violence statutes.