Jon & Kate Announce Divorce…or the Affect of Raising Children on Marital Stability

Aug 8, 2012 by

Television reality show stars Jon and Kate Gosselin, parents of twins and sextuplets, announced during an episode  (titled “Houses and Big Changes”) of their show on Monday night that they were separating after 10 years of marriage. Divorce papers were filed Monday afternoon in their hometown in Pennsylvania. The announcement was not a surprise.

The tabloids have speculated on a Gosselin split for several months now, hinting that both Jon and Kate may have engaged in infidelity, but Kate said during the Monday night show that the problems started soon after the children were born. “We haven’t really known where we were going, but we’ve been dealing with this for a long time,” said Kate. “It’s been so stressful” said Jon.

Some observers have commented that the Gosselins are simply the latest victims of the lethal effect television reality shows seem to have on relationships, joining many other married couples whose marriages fell apart after having their daily lives taped for broadcast. Kate Gosselin disagreed, claiming “I believe it’s a chapter that probably would have played out had the world been watching or not.”

The Jon & Kate show will probably continue, and the family will adapt to their new lifestyles in time, but the cause of the Gosselin split will likely be a source of speculation for some time to come. Was the show the cause of the divorce? Was it infidelity? Or was it the kids?

Andrew Cherlin, Griswold Professor of Public Policy in the department of sociology at Johns Hopkins University might have found the answer in his study of the effects of children on divorce. Much has been written about the effects of divorce on children, far less has been set forth on the effects of children on divorce.

The surprise is that Cherlin found that the presence of children in the home decreases a couple’s likelihood of getting a divorce. Cherlin found that couples are less likely to divorce when there are children in the home, but only when the children are very young. As the children grew up, the divorce rate went up too.

It would seem the presence of children lowers the rate of divorce, but only for a short period of time. The decrease in divorce seemed to come from the new relationships formed with the children and not from new strength in the marriage. As the kids grow, the incidence of divorce increased. Perhaps it is because raising older children is more difficult or that parents who wanted to divorce waited until the children were older. Lots of studies have shown that happiness decreases once a couple has children, even though there is happiness and fulfillment from having children initially. It appears
marital happiness takes a dip after the initial honeymoon and then again as the children are born and grow up. Happiness in the marriage then naturally continues a slow decline over time. Given enough time and lack of happiness, it is understandable that divorces are a common result regardless of the amount of exposure on a reality TV show.

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