Blog #4: Startling Divorce Notes

While reading The Curious Researcher by Bruce Ballenger two weeks ago, I came across a section that I rather liked. Absently, I dogeared the page with every intention of going back to it.

Let me tell you, that I entirely forgot that I dogeared page 127 of TCR until yesterday, August 1st. I didn’t go back to the page on the “Double- Entry Journal Method” until we were assigned to select a note taking method from the book and write a blog on our favorite style. Lindsay said, “Open your books to page 127 and let’s discuss the note taking styles that Ballenger shares with us.”

And once I opened the book, I was pleasantly reminded that I had already chosen a favorite style of note taking methods.

The different styles of note taking that Ballenger presents in TCR from page 127 to page 136 are:

-The Double- Entry Journal Method: in which the researcher creates two columns in her notebook. In the left column, the researcher paraphrases, summaries, or quotes the source. Then on the right side, the researcher does a quick fast write about she learned from the source (Ballenger 127).

-The Research Log: in which the researcher creates categories for notes. In the “What Strikes Me Most?” section, the researcher produces “a fast write that is an open- ended response [to the question]” (Ballenger 131). In the “Source Notes” section, the researcher pencils in (or types) interesting quotes, paraphrases, or summaries. And lastly, in the “The Source Reconsidered” section, the researcher takes another look at the source and fast writes new thoughts using previous notes for guidance (Ballenger 134).

-Narrative Note Taking: in which the researcher formulates fast writes to several prompts. The first prompt is, “What I understand this to be saying is _____” (Ballenger 134). The second is, “When I first began reading this, I thought ________, and now I think _____” (Ballenger 135). And the last step is to repeat the prompts for different points brought up in the source the researcher is reading (Ballenger 136).

I find that I rather like the double columns method because I learned a similar practice in 9th grade. My 9th grade math teacher forced the class to use “Cornell Notes” as the only acceptable form of note taking. Because I felt like the two columned notes were very easy to follow, I’ve maintained the style for the past 6 years.

Now, because I still need another 450 words to complete my blog (and I’m trying to use up as many words as I can by writing these fillers right now!) I’m going to share with you, my readers, some of my “in the middle notes” I took while reading my most recent source, Understanding the Divorce Cycle: The Children of Divorce in Their Own Marriages by Nicholas  H. Wolfinger.

-I found it interesting that 90% of Americans get married at some point in their lives and that 1 in 2 marriages fail (Wolfinger 2). In a country with over 316 million residents (according to the webpage), the population that experiences divorces (sometimes multiple times!) is incomprehensible!!!

-A quote that I especially found intriguing (albeit HILARIOUS) featured in Wolfinger’s book, originally published in  “Newsweek Magazine”, was, “Past age 40, American women are more likely to be killed by terrorists than they are to get married” (Wolfinger 2). What a sad reality (and it seems impossible to honestly believe)! And what a confounding thought to even contemplate…

-Some reasons why we have high divorce rates (which is important seeing as THAT is what my paper is on!!!) are, as Wolfinger states, “Soaring rates of cohabitation… Publicized ‘fatherless’ pregnancies of Madonna, Jodie Foster, and other celebrities… Americans acceptance (or at least tolerance) of divorce has increased to the point that generally it is no longer construed as a moral failing… Marriages do not bear the stigma they once did… Divorced characters are common place in today’s movies, literature, and television shows… Self help books covering all aspects of marital dissolution fill our bookstores… Children of divorce are disproportionately likely to end their own marriages… by at least 50%… [and the] no- fault divorce law in 1970 making it far easier [to get divorced] (Wolfinger 2- 3, 5, 106).

-“Two tiered divorce systems” exist in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona which can make it more difficult for couples to get divorces. If a couple chooses to get a “covenant marriage,” divorce is less easy to obtain as opposed to a regular union, in which divorce is the same as every other state. One of my original theoretical solutions to fixing high divorce rates was to change divorce laws so they would be more difficult to obtain. I find it terribly disappointing that only 2% of married Louisiana residents “opted” for the “covenant marriages.” I believe the reason only 2% of married Louisiana couples wanted the option that would make divorce harder, was because they didn’t expect a marriage that would last forever. Marriage that lasts forever is no longer common, in my opinion (Wolfinger 5).

And now, finally!!!, I’ve hit over 800 words and I can publish this blog.

❤ Siarra


6 thoughts on “Blog #4: Startling Divorce Notes

  1. Hey Siarra,
    I love your topic and I truly believe in marriage. its sad that a lot of people don’t take the vows that you say when you are married seriously. “‘Till death do us part” is what was in the vows that I said to my husband and I still feel the same way today. I think that with the fall of secure marriages it shows where our society is right now. A lot of people see marriage as a paper contract with some one that you will only be with them when its good and when its bad you have “Irreconcilable differences”, what ever happened to working it out? , “For better or for worse?”. I’m glad that you are doing your essay on this topic because I really y feel that people go and get married like they are signing a lease for a vehicle and as soon as they don’t want the vehicle any more they give it back. I would like the world to know how important it is to have that “Covenant” relationship until death. I think it would change america and the world. it would also help out the communities and the children that are in them. great topic and I cant wait to read more, I’m glad that you are tackling this topic as it is controversial and entertaining.

    1. Tiff! Thank you for your thoughts girlie!
      “Til death do us part” to me is not long enough. I fully believe that with the proper authority that marriages can even last beyond the grave. Marriage is much more important than “signing a lease for a vehicle,” like you said. I really appreciate your comments and I hope that there are more people out there like you who understand!
      ❤ Siarra

  2. Siarra,

    This is really a very compelling topic and actually one that I was considering for my essay. Growing up, I imagined that divorce was terrible and uncommon, but now it seems that the value of marriage has declined so strikingly. It’s sad to think that something so seemingly sacred and beautiful as marriage between two people literally amounts to the odds of a coin flip. (You can use that, if you want.)

    The trend could likely be connected to a rise in individualism or it could simply be because it seems so commonplace nowadays that the idea that “divorce is okay” is spreading like a virus; couples just have to point to the current trend to justify their actions.

    Something that surprises me, though, is why there is such a high percentage of marrieds in America if divorce is so rampant. What are all of these people looking for in a marriage that they eventually fail to find, and why weren’t they aware of the potential for divorce before getting married? To me, it seems like it would be more likely that people wouldn’t want to make such a commitment as the big “M” if it seems highly likely that it won’t succeed.

    I look forward to seeing your take on the issue.


    (Word count: 215)

    1. I really appreciate your thoughts! I love how you connected the percentage to a coin flip. Smart thinking.
      Also, I know what you mean when you said, “It seems so commonplace nowadays that the idea that “divorce is okay” is spreading like a virus; couples just have to point to the current trend to justify their actions.” The stigma with divorce is completely gone. No one sees divorce as a moral failing anymore. People view divorce as a sociological issue now (which is interesting because our culture usually is one to point blame to the individual).
      ❤ Siarra

      1. Hey all – just to play the devil’s advocate here a minute: has anyone researched the history of marriage? Has this ironclad union been around socially in Western culture (note the term “Western” for I think we’re really only talking about Western Christian marriage, yes?) for as long as we assume it has? How has it changed over the ages? Are there other cultures that don’t “value” marriage as much that have gotten along just fine? Has marrage always functioned the same across classes across time? Has marriage always been about love? Is marriage always a good thing?

        I’m thinking about other areas where we assume things have always been a certain way: Americans have always been free (not true); Americans have always been a democratic society (if you don’t count those who didn’t own land and couldn’t vote); diamonds have always been used for engagement rings (not true).

        If we operate under the assumption that ALL marriage at ALL times are positive, aren’t we committing a logical fallacy? A sweeping generalization? As curious researchers, we try to avoid that at all costs. We want the particulars. Which marraiges at which time? Under which “rules” – state or church (speaking of murky, hot-button topics!)?

        I really like Joey’s questions: What are all of these people looking for in a marriage that they eventually fail to find, and why weren’t they aware of the potential for divorce before getting married? This seems to be a compassionate, curious way of looking at the topic. Suggesting that all divorces are “moral failings” will alienate your reading audience. There are too many variables when it comes to divorce. I can’t imagine that readers would fully agree (and keep listening after they hear) that people who divorce have lesser morals than those who do not. And readers may also question the suggestion that the state should more strictly regulate splitting with someone who could be abusive, could be a psychopath, and who could be destroying you or your chlidren’s lives.

        This is a highly volatile and controversial topic that has the added benefit of being morally touchy. I applaud you, Siarra, for taking it on and remaining so passionate about it. But I’d also like to gently and lovingly remind you to remain curious and to continue approaching your research with an open heart and mind.

        (This goes for all you researchers who are reading this, too: remain curious even when you think you’ve found anwers. We should be comfortable with questions – inquiring minds what to know…)

  3. The sociologist and author Nicholas H. Wolfinger made the comment, “Americans acceptance (or at least tolerance) of divorce has increased to the point that generally it is no longer construed as a moral failing” (2). When I referenced him I wasn’t trying to say that everyone who gets divorced has committed a moral failing. The point that I was trying to make was that America is, traditionally, not a society where people use their sociological imaginations in attempt to understand situations. David Newman, another sociologist whose wrote the textbook for the sociology courses here at Clark, basically says that we value “indivdual achievement,” and we place fault on those who are in bad situations (Newman 150). We give the indivdual credit for their life’s circumstances. Take for instance, the general perseption of homeless people. We don’t look at homeless people with our sociological imagination and think of the bigger picture, we think: homeless person who refuses to get a job.
    My point is that for some reason, divorce has lost its “stigma” and has become acceptable (Wolfinger 2). We look at divorce with our sociological imagination and I’m curious as to why.

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