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For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered Paperback – February 17, 2003


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For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered + Divorce: Causes and Consequences (Current Perspectives in Psychology) + The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (February 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393324133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393324136
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

University of Virginia psychology professor Hetherington and writer Kelly offer a "primer" on the "postnuclear family experience." After studying more than 1,400 families and 2,500 children over three decades, Hetherington sees divorce as part of a series of "interconnected transitions" in life rather than a one-time event. While destructive in the short-term, divorce can also be positive, creating new opportunities for long-term personal growth. The authors begin by looking at the character of the marital relationship, which is like a bank account: each partner makes "deposits" of strengthening factors (like mutual support and intimacy) and "withdrawals" that debilitate the relationship. The emotional base of the marriage erodes if there's an imbalance of "deposits" and "withdrawals" for too long, resulting in divorce. Depending on their "protective" factors (maturity, autonomy) vs. "risk" (impulsiveness, antisociability), ex-partners will weather the stormy first year after divorce with varying degrees of resilience. After six years, most are happier. While the general picture is fairly positive, the detail can be unnerving. Children may be adjusting, but after six years, a quarter of them see their noncustodial father once a year or less. One fourth of ex-spouses are still having conflicts after six years. Most stepfathers give up the struggle to connect with resisting stepchildren after two years. With these darker realities in mind, the authors offer a series of practical suggestions at the end of each chapter. (Jan. 21)Forecast: Given the vast number of people divorcing all the time, the market for this jargon-free book should be huge. But its scholarly bent (aimed at its primary audience of upper-level college students and counseling professionals) and its claim to be "the most comprehensive study of divorce in America" may turn off some.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

A reader-friendly guide to how people can build success out of the stress and adversity of divorce. -- Michael Rutter, Institute of Psychiatry, London

A welcome corrective to misleading and simplistic accounts...dispels the myth that divorce is always negative. -- Ross D. Parke, University of California, Riverside

Gold standard [research] aimed at clearing up confusion among moms and dads worried about divorce. -- USA Today

Sure to become a classic in the field! -- Constance R. Ahrons, author of The Good Divorce

Without doubt the world's preeminent researcher on the family processes that surround divorce. -- Eleanor Maccoby, Stanford University

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
The information is informative and useful.
S. Jackson
This book is a must read for anyone considering divorce or who has been through one.
Frankie
This book present an impressive quantity of facts about divorce, family, children.
Rocio Lopez Contreras

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This was a most helpful, elucidating book. It maps out what life after divorce is like, on the basis of an enormous, scientific study. Anyone who has been divorced, or is the child of divorced parents (or marrying one) will find in it all the touchstones you need to know about to help you guide your emotional life.
After all the political fighting about divorce, here is a book with no agenda, except the truth. Indispensible.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Nick Kasoff on January 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Mavis Hetherington has gathered together a veritable avalanche of information, in a most usable form. For parents who have divorced, and especially those preparing to enter into new marriages with children, this is a "must read." Numerous and very costly mistakes could be avoided, to the benefit of remarried parents and their children.
- Nick Kasoff
WGNU Radio - St. Louis
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mountain Girl on September 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
Just the facts ma'am. The first truly helpful book I've ever read on the subject. This book allowed me to look at divorce from a different, more productive perspective. The fact that it is backed up with solid research gave me the confidence to trust that I have the power to control where I go from here... a message that I'm trying very hard to instill in my children too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rocio Lopez Contreras on June 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book present an impressive quantity of facts about divorce, family, children. Based on observation, they find what makes that while some persons became winners afer divorce others just keep so so, or even loosers for the rest of the life after divorce. This book is based completely in the observation and following of families for 20 years, the information presented here is so true, is not like a priest or a therapist is advicing you, is not a book of psycholycal help, or self esteem, is just the summary of the pure observation.
It's very intereseting when the author talks about the "protection factors" and "risk factors" that can help you or not to be succesful after divorce.
Also talks very clearly about the case, often presented, when a person just change of husband or wife, but keep making the same mistakes than the previous marriage.
Describe the process and different ways that can follow the children after divorce, and what it helps.
This book changed completely my view of divorce, and certainly gives hope to the people who is involved in it. If you are passing thru this, this book will be an incredible help to understand it, and to have a happy ending.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Frankie on May 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for anyone considering divorce or who has been through one. There is nothing like "the facts" to set you straight on what it is all really about. Dr Hethrington and her team have done a huge service to humankind with this 20 year study. Job superbly done.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tara on January 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
For those who like scientific-study-type-stuff, this is a great read. Ms. Hetherington studied divorced families for a full twenty years post-paperwork and her findings were quite interesting. She used various methods to gather information: interviews, journals, tests etc. And she found a variety of outcomes for the parents as well as the children who came from "broken homes".

The book details the many factors which can influence an individual: a support system, educational opportunities, individual attitudes, assistance resources, authoritative parenting, permissive parenting, school districts- and more. In the end, Ms. Hetherington was able to segment the individuals according to how far they'd come and how satisfied they were with their lives. She wrote about the different paths people took, the effects of new partners and the ultimate outcome of the children (really, it wasn't too bad :) ). And through it all, she kept it interesting by telling data-supporting stories about her subjects.

I'd suggest this piece for anyone facing a divorce and concerned about the possible negative effects- it's full of great insights. But... like I said, it's rooted in fact-finding. There is no emotional hand-holding-through-a-difficult-time component. Therefore, for someone facing a divorce and wrestling with surging emotional currents... it might be a little tough to plod through.

Tara Eisenhard, author of The D-Word: Divorce Through a Child's Eyes
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Max's Mommy on August 4, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just look at the numbers: 1400 families in this study, something like 70 in the Wallerstein "study" (which was really just a non-scientific anecdotal case report on children who were ALREADY being seen for emotional problems - some statistically significant sampling). This book is very straight forward, and seems to strive to give you a good feel for what you can work to control during your own divorce (or maybe gives you the impetus to stay in a marriage if that's an option). I found this to be an extremely helpful book and much much much stronger than the 'other' one.
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