Why did couples got divorced back in the 1920s? See the top reasons

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The top reasons couples get divorced (1920)

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

Reasons couples get divorced: Some of the indignities

Indignities alleged by wives in petitions for divorce included among the decrees granted in the last fiscal year covered a variety of offenses.

One plaintiff included among her allegations of humiliation suffered, that her husband refused to sit with her in church.

Another charged that her husband, who was a Lieutenant in the Dental Corps, USA, squandered all his money gambling.

One wife charged that her husband spent his evenings with his mother and sister, “rushing the beer can.”

Another charged her husband with teaching the baby to drink beer.

MORE: Til death did they part? Victorian divorce statistics (1898)

One husband was accused of cursing his wife because she gave her daughter, by a former marriage, a pint of molasses. A score of wives charged that their husbands contracted diseases.

One woman charged, among other humiliations, that her husband refused to build the fires, and told her if she was cold, “there is the stove and the coal.”

One husband appeared as the plaintiff alleging indignities in that his wife accused him of flirting with his stenographer, his neighbors and various other women; accused him of flirting with every woman he passed while they were motoring; and telephoned his doctor to examine him for insanity, as she believed he was going crazy over women.

The top reasons couples get divorced (1920)

The trial divorce

by Dorothy Dix (Syndicated – September 1920)

We were discussing the case of the Smiths, who were divorced a year or two ago with much laundering of soiled linen in public, and who have just re-married.

“It is very common for people who have divorced each other to remarry,” said a famous lawyer, “and it would occur still oftener, except for the morbid dread most men and women have of appearing ridiculous. They think their friends would laugh at them if they went sneaking back into the same matrimonial fold out of which they have broken with such a tale of cruelty, and heartbreak, and general woe.

“I am convinced that the feeling that brings a young couple together and that is made up of the dreams and faith and romance and high hope of youth makes a bond between them that never quite breaks. It may wear pretty thin, and get frazzled in places. but you can patch it up so that it will hold to the end.

“I am also certain that when the average husband and wife quarrel and fall out they are not really out of love with each other, as they think they are. They are merely tired of each other. They have got on each other’s nerves instead of each other’s hearts, and what they need is a temporary separation instead of a permanent divorce.

“So when a wife comes and bedews the end of my desk with her tears, and tells me how cruel her husband is to her, and how he neglects her, and how she suspects that yellow-headed, stringy stenographer of his, though goodness knows what anybody can see in that made-up creature passes her comprehension, and will I please get her a divorce from the brute.

“And when a pale, grim-faced man asks me to apply for a divorce for him from a wife whose nagging and fretting he can no longer endure, and who admits, under cross-examination that he does think he would be happier with a younger woman, why, I say to them:

“‘Certainly, I think it would be highly immoral for two people to continue to live together who feel toward each other as you do. I will take the case, but only upon the condition that you separate for a year, and hold no communication, either by speech or letter with one another. You must do just as I say, and if at the end of the year, you still want the divorce, I will arrange the matter as quickly and with as little publicity as possible.’

“Then, if the husband is rich, I send the wife to Honolulu or Japan for a year, and I see that she does not get nearly as much money to spend as she has been in the habit of having. If the husband is a poor man, I send the wife back to live on her own people, and she gets only the small amount of money that she would have as alimony from a divorced husband earning the salary her’s does.

“Nine times out of ten, before the year is over, the warring couple have made up their difference and have taken their household goods out of storage and set up a new home, which generally is a happy one, for they have had a lesson that they are not likely to forget.”

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