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Divorce, American Style

Posted By Steve Mencher On January 29, 2014 @ 5:10 pm In Bulletin Today | Comments Disabled

We barely began the new year before celebrity divorces began making headlines. Last week the 1970s pop duo Captain & Tennille (“Love Will Keep Us Together”) announced the end of their 39-year marriage. That came a week after former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, filed for divorce. No surprise there.

divorce-wedding-cake-figures [1]Gawking at celebrity divorces is nothing new, though there sure are more of them – especially for the headliners who have been around for awhile. After all, according to an often-quoted study, while divorce rates are falling for younger people, those for people age 50-plus have doubled in the last 20 years [2].

What has changed is the industry that the media have built around divorce. It’s now a life phase that ranks up there with birth, marriage and death.

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Headlines in newspapers and celebrity magazines are just the beginning. Last summer the New York Times began a regular feature as part of their “Booming” series, titled “Unhitched [4],” sort of like the popular accounts of how people met and courted and proposed and planned their wedding. Only the stories look at marriage from the other end, like a Milwaukee couple whose emptying nest spurred unresolved questions [5] that had sprouted much earlier in their marriage.

Since 2010, the Huffington Post has welcomed readers to Huffpost Divorce [6], a section of their popular website that tracks the progress of breakups from infidelity to online dating, with plenty of stops in between. Its motto: Marriages Come and Go, but Divorce is Forever.

Coming soon to NBC: a new sitcom [7] with a 59-year-old lead character advertised as both divorced and blind. “Funny what will keep a family together” is the show’s unpromising tag line.

And just last week, the Sun Sentinel, of Broward and South Palm Beach counties in Florida added a divorce columnist, Debbie Martinez, who will pen “Debbie Does Divorce [8]” monthly. She already writes about the subject for other outlets in South Florida.

“I learned about divorce because I went through it, but there were things I had no clue about,” says Martinez, 54, a life coach and family mediator. “You do better when you feel you’re not alone.”

What fascinates about these unhappy stories? Reading about celebrity divorces, we “feel a sense of moral superiority by judging them and their life choices,” says Karen Sternheimer, a University of Southern California sociology professor and author of Celebrity Culture and the American Dream.

And avidly following the implosion of high-profile marriages, she adds, provides “common gossip fodder that can help people feel more connected to one another.”

Divorce, in other words, may keep us together.

Photo: malerapaso/iStockphoto [9]

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Also of Interest


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Article printed from AARP: http://blog.aarp.org

URL to article: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/01/29/divorce-american-style/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/divorce-wedding-cake-figures.jpg

[2] doubled in the last 20 years: http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2013/07/divorce-rate-doubles-for-couples-over-50.html

[3] >> Sign up for the AARP Money newsletter: http://www.aarp.org/online-community/people/subscribeFromEmail.action?id=29636&intcmp=ILC-EMAIL-SUB-MONY

[4] Unhitched: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/booming/columns/unhitched/index.html

[5] unresolved questions: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/booming/when-nest-emptied-discontent-entered.html?smid=pl-share

[6] Huffpost Divorce: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/divorce/

[7] a new sitcom: http://www.nbc.com/growing-up-fisher/

[8] Debbie Does Divorce: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2014-01-20/queenb/sfl-debbie-does-divorce-20140120_1_facebook-page-new-dog-post-divorce

[9] malerapaso/iStockphoto: http://www.istockphoto.com/user_view.php?id=3727489

[10] >> Get travel discounts with your AARP Member Advantages.: http://discounts.aarp.org/travel/index/uSource/HCTN?intcmp=AE-BL-TRV-DISC

[11] Newly Divorced? Get Gutsy and Gorgeous: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/10/03/newly-divorced-get-gutsy-and-gorgeous/?intcmp=AE-ENDART1-BL-REL

[12] Why Long-Married Couples Split: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/love-sex/info-06-2010/naked-truth-long-term-marriages-end.html?intcmp=AE-ENDART2-BL-BOS

[13] Get free assistance with tax-return preparation from Tax-Aide: http://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-ADV

[14] Join AARP: https://appsec.aarp.org/MSS/join/application?keycode=U9ZTPH9&intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-MEM

[15] AARP home page: http://www.aarp.org/?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-HP

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