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.
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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