Monday, April 28, 2008

Divorce on foot

I attended a conversation with three local historians last week that left me with several interesting morsels that have been rattling around in my brain since.

One of them talked about our tendency to think the past was somehow simpler and less complex than our intricate lives today. As example, she talked about how we tend not to notice that there was "divorce on foot" in past years. We know about the many widowed heads of families who ended up being single parents by default, but we tend to forget that many men headed West to explore and have adventures and try to find a new life -- often leaving behind wives and children in the East. In a time when divorce was unacceptable, it was a way to leave marriage behind.

I'm intending to do further research to learn more about how prevalent this might have been. To be sure, many of these men never took the step toward family life. But another interesting side comment the historian made was that many of the women's colleges and other female-oriented activities (including development of the settlement houses) that started in the East were partly a result of a lot of determined single women wanting to make something of their lives, some of them undoubtedly bypassing the lack of good marriage material in their midst.

Is today's Choice Mom much different?