NYTimes That a woman who has been divorced should feel such awkwardness and isolation seems more part of a Todd Haynes set piece than a scene from “families come in all shapes and sizes” New York, circa 2011. But divorce statistics, which have followed a steady downward slope since their 1980 peak, reveal another interesting trend: According to a 2010 study by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, only 11 percent of college-educated Americans divorce within the first 10 years today, compared with almost 37 percent for the rest of the population.
For this cross section of American families — in the suburban playgrounds of Seattle, the breastfeeding-friendly coffee shops of Berkeley, Calif., and the stroller-trodden streets of the Upper West Side — divorce, especially for mothers with young children underfoot, has become relatively scarce since its “Ice Storm” heyday.
For every cohort since 1980, a greater proportion are reaching their 10th and 15th anniversaries, said Stephanie Coontz, author of “Marriage, a History.”[...]
The experience of being a divorced woman has changed, along with the statistics. “The No. 1 reaction I get from people when I tell them I’m getting divorced is, ‘You’re so brave,’ ” said Stephanie Dolgoff, a 44-year-old mother of two elementary-school daughters who was separated last year. “In the 1970s, when a woman got divorced, she was seen as taking back her life in that Me Decade way. Nowadays, it’s not seen as liberating to divorce. It’s scary.” [...]
“What happened?” asks the writer Claire Dederer in her memoir, “Poser,” which examines life as a new mother in Seattle. In the 1970s, “the feminists, the hippies, the protesters, the cultural elite all said, It’s O.K. to drop out.” In contrast, “We made up our minds, my brother and I and so many of the grown children of the runaway moms, that we would put our families first and ourselves second. We would be good, all the time. We would stay married, no matter what, and drink organic milk.”