Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Generation X Hacks Marriage & Divorce

Generation X - those people born during the 1960s and 1970s - were the children of divorce at rates never before seen, and that reality was instrumental in defining the psychology of the group. Being the latch-key kids coming home to single-parent households, all the while watching after-school TV like Leave It to Beaver and the Brady Bunch, the notion of "the Big D" crafted Gen Xers views on marriage and family. Now adults in their mid-thirties to early fifties, Generation X may be re-defining the stigma and connotation of the Big D, as noted in a great bit of insight from writer Susanna Schrobsdorff who published The Rise of the "Good Divorce" for the View in Time Magazine this week.

After being a primary force in "hacking" the traditional concepts of marriage - with the incredibly quick social change that culminated in the Supreme Court's legalization of marriage rights for same-sex couples - Generation X also seems instrumental in redefining what "divorce" looks like. The idea of co-parenting despite a dissolving marital union gained a new term a couple years ago when Gen Xers Gwyneth Paltrow and husband Chris Martin of Coldplay announced a dissolution of their legal marriage by referring to it as "Conscious Uncoupling." It seemed so bizarrely innocuous, and with the manipulation of language that could certainly be appreciated by Gen X author and coiner of phrases Douglas Coupland, Paltrow had changed the nature of divorce.  The idea gained additional hold with the recent announcement from Hollywood super couple Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck who will co-habit, co-parent, and co-exist while living together but apart on their fabulous Pacific Palisades spread.

While not all Gen Xers have the vast financial resources to make such an arrangement work, the idea of co-parenting and peacefully parenting their children while not being legally married is a social innovation that could only have come from children of the divorce generation. It's well-summed up by another child of divorce, Everclear singer Art Alexis, who sang in Father of Mine - "Now I'm a grown man, with a child of my own, and I swear I'm not gonna let her know, all the pain I have known."

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