Ask Chuck: Is Divorce Easier for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie?
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Recently several close friends to me have divorced, causing so much chaos and pain and financial difficulty, but then you see celebrity divorces like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt after 12 years and six kids, or the break up of Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber after 11 years and two kids, and they are smiling for the cameras while the media talks about them splitting millions of dollars. Maybe if you have millions of dollars, divorce is not a big deal. Do you think that with lots of money, divorce can work out well?
Troubled for my friends.
The short answer for your question is NO. The end of a marriage is not merely about splitting up assets, though that has a huge impact on a couple. There is pain, suffering and most often financial hardship, and while men and women suffer, children can suffer the most.
I believe that is one reason God is very direct in Scripture that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). It is important to remember that He does not hate divorced people! He hates the split because He knows the tremendous fallout that occurs when a family is broken apart, regardless of the reason. A quick look at the numbers show that women and children are most likely to suffer the greatest harm.
Research has shown that after divorce only 3% of men experience poverty, while 19% of mothers become impoverished. Once women become poor, they are less likely to break out of poverty.
In single parent households, many children experience poverty.
"By age six, 68 percent of children in non-married households had experienced at least one year of poverty, compared to 12 percent of children in married households. By age 12, 78 percent of children in non-married households had experienced at least one year of poverty compared to 18 percent of children in married households; and by age 17, 81 percent of children in non-married households had experienced at least one year of poverty compared to 22 percent of children in married households. The study found that 'children in non-married households who are one year old have exceeded the risk of poverty that children in married households experience during their entire 17 years of childhood.'"
In fact, a child's household income dropped by an average of 52 percent after a divorce.
Poverty rates are amazingly lower in two-parent households: "The likelihood of single, unemployed mothers being in poverty dropped from 100 percent to 35 percent if they marry the father of their children: Marriage more than doubled the family income of these mothers and their children."
I share the conviction of the President of Focus on the Family Jim Daly who says that if you really want to reduce poverty, fight to reduce divorce.
But it's not just higher rates of poverty that can impact kids. The emotional toll of divorce can lead to trouble in school, destructive behaviors and difficulties building lasting relationships of their own.
The Daily Mail noted an interesting statistic that after divorce more than 3 out of 4 parents thought their kids had handled the break up well, but the kids saw things differently. In reality, just 18 percent said they were happy about the split, and they reported all kinds of self-destructive coping mechanisms. It's heartbreaking for the children, who have no choice in the matter, to cope with events outside of their control. And that loss of control can lead to some dangerous behaviors.
One of the impacts on children that really breaks my heart is the fact that after divorce, many children drift away from the church and support system of a faith-centered community. They lose faith in God the Father and struggle to understand how to relate to authority.
Research has shown that money and divorce are often closely linked. Arguments over money are one of the leading predictors of divorce. I'm so concerned about building strong marriages — financially, emotionally, and spiritually — that I'm writing a book right now on the topic. I'm also praying for the marriages of those around me, and I urge all of us to do the same, because strong marriages protect more than just those who are in the home. They strengthen our entire society.
For single mothers and those struggling with poverty, I urge them to get some financial counseling, to make the most of the resources they have. Our loving, heavenly Father wants to help the broken hearted and those in need, and there are people standing by ready and willing to lend a hand. We also have many practical and helpful resources for finding financial freedom at crown.org.
I recognize that often the divorce occurs because one party is unwilling to be reconciled. My cousin, who experienced an unwanted divorce, told me he felt death would have been less painful than the agony and heartache he experienced. But long before that day comes, I hope all who consider divorce or are tempted to believe it "can work out well" (with lots of money) as you have stated in your question, will seek Christian counseling, work hard to be reconciled and consider the long term impact on their children.
While it's not just about the money, truthfully, two are better than one for many reasons — finances included. It must be very painful to endure the break up of a marriage in the public eye as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie or Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber are experiencing. But don't be deceived in thinking it is not a big deal. From my experience counseling couples, divorce is a tragedy for every family, and I hope and pray those who read this will turn to the Lord for help, work hard to save their marriage, and avoid a divorce.
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