Abstract Family


Divorce Busting, by Michele Weiner-Davis

My book review

Divorce Busting cover

This book is written from the perspective of a psychologist who uses a great method. The ideas of SBT are practical and effective. It focuses on observable behaviors rather than psychobabble about imaginary internal processes and personality types. If the marital problems are behavioral in nature, this approach can get results.

The book is interesting, informative, and easy to read. I especially like Chapter 7 about taking responsibility for your own happiness. In many cases, avoiding divorce is impossible, but this advice at least makes it easier for spouse who is being divorced. Also, it correctly points out the common trap of the divorced spouse begging the divorcing spouse to stay, which only makes the spouse being divorced seem "needy" and makes the divorce even more likely.

The only problem that I have with this book is that many divorces have little to do with real marriage problems these days. Unilateral No-Fault divorce has gradually become the law in all 50 states. Adultery is not only legal but politically correct, and anybody who has an affair with somebody who is younger, sexier, or wealthier than their spouse can quickly and easily divorce their spouse to "upgrade" to their new partner. "Irreconcilable differences" is just a legal fiction in most cases. If your spouse is divorcing you because of an affair rather than because of true marriage problems, then using psychology to try to avoid the divorce will just create frustration and waste your time. And don't believe the divorce-industry propaganda that affairs are just a by-product of marriage problems.

The story of "George" and "Alicia" in Chapter Six is a case in point. These are two people whom the author says were both married when they met and had an affair before divorcing their respective spouses and marrying each other based purely on sex. Then -- Surprise! -- they had trouble trusting each other after they were married for a short time. It should be obvious that two dishonest people who cheated on their former spouses would cheat on each other as well or at least suspect each other of cheating, that divorce is a near certainty for a marriage between two people like this. But Weiner-Davis instead tries to do some SBT therapy with "George" to save that pathetic marriage at least for a little while. SBT probably would not have helped the former spouses of George and Alicia.

Easy No-Fault divorce in most states means that these techniques won't always have a chance to work, and you might not have any warning that your marriage is in trouble before being served a divorce notice. If your spouse really wants to divorce you to be with somebody else, techniques like SBT may not help. But still this book has many useful ideas and is highly recommended for people in a possible-divorce situation.

Notes: Divorce Busting was written in 1992. Her later book The Divorce Remedy: The Proven Seven-Step Program for Saving your Marriage was written in 2003 and covers the same ground but incorporates some newer research. In other words, it is an updated version of Divorce Busting. I haven't read it myself but probably it would be best to recommend that folks buy and read the newer book.