Mar 26, 2019
Brian Mayer talks about the history of divorce. We often
think that it is a recent thing but really it has been around for
awhile, although it has changed over the centuries, decades and
years. Divorce as we all know has had a major impact on many
lives and we will explore all that and more today. We hope
you enjoy today’s message. For more information and
additional resources please visit our website at http://www.theremarriedlife.com
- Divorce has been around for awhile and in fact the first
recorded divorce in America occurred in 1643. The male was
accused of abandoning his wife for another woman. He
ultimately admitted this to be the case. Although it is
unclear what happened, apparently he suffered some sort of
punishment for what he did.
- If we think about England being one of the most dominant
cultures in history they really did not have divorce before
1700. However in 1857, they instituted what they called the
Matrimonial Causes Act and a special court was implemented to deal
- So even though in history there were cases of divorce, it is
really a recent phenomenon. What does the Bible say about
divorce. Generally speaking God will allow divorce only in
situation where there is sexual immorality – i.e. adultery or
abandonment. Now the Bible does not explicitly state abuse as
a reason, but it can be implied that this is not acceptable and
that one should flee from this situation. Jesus talks about
this in regard to fleeing from persecution in Matthew 10:23:
“When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.”
- Let’s fast forward a bit and talk about the change in divorce
in the 20th Century (the 1900’s) especially in the United
- 1900s: You had to prove you significant other had done
one of those three things we mentioned earlier in the Bible –
adultery, abandonment, or abuse.
- 1910s: WWI was raging and while divorce was happening it
was women who were blamed for this for the most part. The
decade was the precursor to the 1920’s where women began to fully
come out from the curtain so to speak to stand up for
- 1920s: This was probably the first so called sexual
revolution in the U.S. where women began to assert themselves more
and rather than again stand behind the man they began to speak
out. Think about the right to vote they obtained during this
time. Interestingly something called Trial Marriages were
established at this time where couples could try out living
together without getting married.
- 1930s: The Great Depression in the U.S. was happening at
this time. This had a serious impact on both marriages and
divorces as they both slowed due to the economic hardships that
were created during this time. At this time one still had to
prove that their spouse did something seriously wrong in order to
be granted a divorce.
- 1940s: World War II was in full swing and men were away
fighting the war while women cared for an entire household and in
many cases went to work to support the war effort. Marriages
increased before the start of the war, but divorce spiked after the
war when the men came home and invariable life changed. While
still having to prove a significant misdeed to obtain a divorce,
the courts began to relax the standards.
- 1950s: The divorce rate declined during this time.
Culture showed the happy All American family through shows like
“Leave it to Beaver.” Family courts were established during
this time which solely focused on matters like divorce rather than
going through the regular courts. There was still an awful
stain during this time as women were still found largely to blame
for why marriages were not working.
- 1960s: This was the second sexual revolution in which
divorce increased. Places around the country popped up to
help people get divorces quickly especially if you did not want to
go through proving one of the egregious issues like affairs,
abandonment, or abuse.
- 1970s: No fault divorce laws came into existence.
This opened the floodgates of divorce in America. This
eliminated the necessity to file for divorce stating one of the big
issues we mentioned earlier. Divorce was at an all-time high
here whereas about 50% of marriage ended in divorce.
- 1980s: The No fault laws continued to be refined during
this time. And in many states timeframes were implemented for
separation before divorce. Also child support laws became
- 1990s: Mediation was the name of the game during this
decade in which there was a push to seek amicable ends to
marriage. Prenuptial type agreements especially those that
spelled out the amicable divorce also became popular.
- 2000s: Something called the Collaborative Process took
off here where the couple and their attorneys would all meet
together to work together on an amicable dissolving of the
marriage. The goal here was to avoid court.
- 2010s: Divorce rates and marriage rates are now declining in
part by the millennial generation just not being as interested in
marriage. Many of this generation say they don’t want the
government involved nor feel like they need a piece of paper to
show their love. Indeed times are changing and will continue
- As we know the Bible does not change it’s stance, but culture
sure does and as we have walked through this today we can see that
it changes decade by decade and often year by year.
- If you are divorced and remarried hopefully today’s message was
helpful to you to understand how much things have been loosened
legally but that will still have an opportunity to make this next
marriage the best it can be and to not give up on it unless we are
abandoned or abused for sure.
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As always remember that marriage is not something you have, it
is something you do. Talk to you next week unless you are
binge listening in the future in which case I will talk to you in
about a minute! Take care.