Social Life (Unit 8)

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Unit 8

Separation and Divorce


The Challenge

Outside Influences

Doubts. Conflict.

The Decision. Decision-making.

Where can help be found?

Children. Decision about Custody and Access.


Text 1

Can Marriage Be Saved?

In today's world, marriage is subjected to the same stresses as other cultural institutions. Technological change seems to be affecting everything. People want what is new, what is novel, what is exciting. Trade in the old; buy the latest model. Get a new car, get a new television, get the newest computer. A popular song is a hit today, forgotten tomorrow. Change has become a way of life. Without a backward glance, we change jobs, change careers, change where we live. Not surprisingly, we change our marriage partners, too. In the United States, the marriage rate is 10.6 per 1,000 people. The divorce rate is 5.3 per 1,000, one divorce in every two marriages. Of course, this figure does not include unhappy couples. Where society offered stability, instability has become a way of life. And we are hooked.

But some people are fighting back. When their marriage is in trouble, they try to find out what's wrong. One way is to get professional help from a marriage counselor, a person with special training in psychology and family relations.


I. Read the text and put questions to it.


II. Answer the following questions:

1.      What are the symptoms of splitting up?

2.      Is splitting up more common among the lower income groups?

3.      What are the reasons of divorce in Russia? In the USA?

4.      Do divorced women receive maintenance from their former husbands?

5.      Do human values change with age and how?

6.      What is terrible about being divorced?

7.      At what confusion do you arrive reading this text?

8.      Do you think that conflicts in a family can lead to separation?

9.      What happens to people whose main object of life is pleasure?

10.  What is the best way to keep a family?

11.  What problems face children with divorced parents?


III. Look at these results from a recent newspaper survey of children's attitudes to divorce. Do a survey of attitudes in your class. Compare your results with the results of the newspaper survey.


Divorce - the side-effects


Children with parents together

Children with parents divorced/separated





Marriage should be forever





Children's parents should stay together even if they are unhappy





It is better for children to live with both parents rather than one





It should be made more difficult to get divorced






IV. Comment on the following quotation:

Endings can be abrupt or lengthy. Parting can bring relief and release as well as pain and insecurity.


V. Solve the problem:

When a marriage is in trouble, what is the best way to save it? Should the couple attempt to solve their own problems? Should they go for help to a relative (the wife's mother for instance)? Should they consult a religious authority perhaps a minister, priest or rabbi? Or should they go to an outsider, such as marriage counsellor? Which "expert" would give the most reliable advice? Tell why you think so?


VI. Read the letter to the problem page of a magazine. Write an answer, giving advice.

I am 28 and have been married for seven years. I have two lovely children aged six and four. My problem is that I have fallen out of love with my husband. He does nothing to help in the house, watches TV all the time and drinks too much. He also had an affair with his secretary a few years ago. I nearly left him but I stayed because of the children. I don't want to spend the rest of my days with somebody I don't love but I know my children need both their parents. Please (ell me what to do.

Start your answer like this:

"There are two obvious things you can do: stay with your husband, or leave him. If you stay with him... "


VII. Work in pairs. Agree or disagree with the following:

1. Family love is like the measles; we all have to go through it.

(J.K. Jerome)

2. All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

(L. Tolstoy)

3. Man for the field, woman for the hearth;

Man for the sword and for the needle she;

Man with the head and woman with the heart;

Man to command and woman to obey;

All else confusion.

(Lord Tennison)


VII. Pair work. Act out the dialogues giving advice:

1.      The wife has a full-time job and is angry because the husband doesn’t help around the house.

2.      The husband complains about his wife’s mother interfering in.

3.      The wife complains that the husband doesn’t pay enough attention to the children.



Text I

How would a problem of this kind be solved in Russia? Explain the advantages or disadvantages of your system. Please read these paragraphs attentively and give the most appropriate answers to the questions.


1. When two people decide to live together, there is usually much anticipation and excitement. There run many idealistic visions of perpetual happiness and mutual contentment. The couple want to please each other so as to ensure a chance to "live happily ever after".

2. Why do we have these expectations? A popular theory is that it is because we invest so much in the notion of romantic love. Everyone has their own personal picture of this mysterious force called "love". If we have never experienced it, we feel denied and deprived. When we lose it, we grieve because we fee! Empty and bereft.


I. Answer the questions:

1. Who, do you think, are more sociably active in divorce, men or women?

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being married (divorced)?

3. Should women have some privileges?

4. Do you believe in romantic love?

5. What are women’s problems in Russia?


II. Read the text without dictionary and discuss the problem: what measures would you take to improve the described position.

Splitting up - the painful facts

There were 162,000 divorces in Britain in 1983, and about a fifth of those involved at lent one partner who had been divorced before.

But splitting up is more common among the lower income groups. The survey shows that the rate of divorces per thousand husbands in unskilled manual jobs was more than four times that for professional husbands.

Nearly two-fifths of all currently divorced women aged 18 to 49 were receiving maintenance from their former husbands for their children or themselves.

Marriages in the UK - a total of 387,000 - were three per cent down on the previous year. Just over a third of these were remarriages for one or both partners.


III. Complete the following sentences, using information from the article above.

Women do more work in the house than men do.

a. Women ______ free time ______ men.

b. Men ______ housework.

с. ______ do any washing or ironing.

d. Only one man in twenty ______.

e. ______ wash the dishes in the evening.

f. ______ repairs in the household ______ by men.

g. Britons ______ more money ______ ten years ago.

h. Britons ______ cigarettes, and are eating ______.

i. Spain ______ place to go on holiday.

j. There were ______ as many divorces among ______ as among professional classes.

k. Fewer than two in five divorced women ______.

l. ______ marriages in 1983 ______ 1982.


IV. Translate the text from Russian into English.

Семью отменят?

Почему-то считается, что каждой девушке хочется замуж, а каждый мужчина стремится к свободе. Объясните мне тогда, почему предложения о браке делают в основном мужчины, а развода требуют женщины.

Действительно, 75% разводов (то есть 3 из 4) — по крайней мере, в России — происходит по инициативе женщин. Социологов волнует то, что каждая вторая женщина готова оставить мужа потому только, что не любит его. К осознанию «нелюбви» (и соответственно к разводу) женщина приходит разными путями. В зависимости от причины брака, А браки, как известно, заключаются: а) по расчету; б) по «залету»; в) по любви, г) для статуса.

Именно браки для статуса стали распадаться в первую очередь, поскольку в них не было никакой основы: ни общего дела, ни идейного дела, ни даже секса нормального. Девушка выходила замуж за первого, кто позвал, лишь бы не оставаться «в девах».

Браки по «залету» представляют собой те самые 25% разводов, которые затеяны не женщиной. Наоборот, именно слабому полу свойственна привычка «сохранять детям отца».

В браках по любви, если любовь пройдет через год, молодые циники разведутся по принципу «я никому ничего не должен».



Look at the picture and talk about your mother's day. These words will help you.


to do the rooms to mend clothes

to go shopping

to cook something tasty

to wash linen

to sew buttons

to iron clothes to clean the floor with a vacuum cleaner


Answer the following questions.

1.     Do you help your mother about the house?

2.     What do you do about the house?

3.     Can you sew a button on?

4.     Can you boil an egg?

5.     Do you make your bed yourself?

6.     You keep your room clean and tidy, don't you?

7.     Are you fond of "clever machines"?



Lazy husbands

Men are lazy in the home, according to an official survey published today.

They have about six hours' a week more free time than wives, but play very little part in cooking, cleaning, washing, and ironing, according to the Social Trends Survey by the Central Statistical Office.

Nearly three quarters of married women claimed to do all or most of the housework, and among married men the proportion who admitted that their wives did all or most of the housework was only slightly lower.

The survey showed that washing and ironing was the least popular task among men, with only one per cent performing this duty, compared with 89 per cent of women, and 10 per cent sharing equally.

Only 5 per cent of men prepare the evening meal, 3 per cent carry out household cleaning duties, 5 per cent household shopping, and 17 per cent wash the evening dishes.

But when household gadgets break down, repairs are carried out by 82 per cent of husbands.

The survey says that, despite our economic problems, the majority of Britons are substantially better off than a decade ago. We're healthier, too - eating healthier foods and smoking less.

The average Briton, not surprisingly, is more widely travelled than a decade ago. More people are going abroad for holidays, with Spain the favourite destination.

So here is the way the statisticians see us...


I. Read both texts and compare them.


II. Agree or disagree:

1.      Husband and wife who both work should share domestic chores.

2.      Home life feels the stress of social life.

3.      Society would not exist without marriage.

4.      Divorce is normally wrong and marriage should be preserved at all costs.

5.      Marriage restricts freedom.

6.      A lot of married people get divorced.

7.      The problems of having mother-in-law in the family.


Project Works


I. In Britain, people can get married at 16 if their parents agree. They can marry at 18 without their parents' agreement. What age can people marry in your country? Is it right or wrong to get married young? In your opinion, what is the ideal age to get married?

Before their wedding, actress Brooke Shields and tennis star Andre Agassi made a contract. They agreed how they will share their £50 million, how much time they will spend in their four houses and how many tennis tournaments Brooke will attend (ten a year). Do you think it is a good idea to discuss practical details with your future wife/husband before you get married? Why/why not? Make a list of points that you would include in a marriage contract.


II. Read the text using a dictionary if necessary. Write down your own steps to avoid separation and improve relationship.

10 ways to bomb-proof your relationship

1 DON'T PUT YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND. Even true love can sour and fade if you let misunderstandings and unspoken anger take the place of communication. Accept the fact that the most fairy-tale relationships end, then take steps to make sure yours won't be one of them.

2 BEWARE OF DANGER POINTS. There are danger points in every relationship when either of you may be tempted to look for affection elsewhere. One is when the early days are over and that special spark has faded. Another is when baby makes three; a third when mid-life approaches and you want to feel young and desirable again. When you know your marriage is at risk, take extra care.

3 MAKE A DATE. If you never seem to have the time to be together, make a date. It might seem silly if you're living together, but perhaps the only way you're going to have the chance to treat each other to some tender lovingcare is to clear away all barriers to being alone.

4 BE HONEST AND CLEAR. Neither of you is a mind reader, so if Valentine's Day or your anniversary really matters to you, say so. If you're feeling sad, angry or hurt, say so — and why. You also need to say when you're feeling happy, loving or sexy, and invite your partner to share that with you, too.

5 TALK ABOUT DISAGREEMENTS. Sit down and talk over the things you argue about most — money, chores, children. Once you identify your points of conflict, you can find ways of sorting them out before they cause irreparable damage.

6 BE INTIMATE. Research shows that couples who talk freely about sex are half as likely to have an affair as those who don't.

7 FACE UP TO YOUR DEMONS. There's no point leaving one partner for another, to find yourself repeating the same old script. Explore what goes wrong in your relationships and why, and be prepared to take responsibility and make changes.

8 SHARE WORK AS WELL AS PLAY. If both of you go out to work and only one does the lion's share of the jobs at home, resentment may drive a wedge between you. Agree a fair division of labour.

9 ASK FOR HELP. If you're having difficulties you can't resolve, get help from a professional counsellor. Don't leave it for years and go as the very last resort. If you ignore problems for too long it may be too late for anyone to help.

10 BE REAL LOVERS. Being each other's best friend is probably more important than a red-hot sex life. But your sex life is often a barometer to the rest of your relationship. Couples who make the effort to be loving and passionate in bed usually find this spills over into the rest of their lives.


III. Put the characteristics of a wife/husband and a mother-in-law in order of priority

1. Wife or husband: tolerant, considerate, beautiful, affectionate to husband/wife, affectionate to children, hard-working, tidy, home-loving, good looking, rich, thrifty, quiet, well-educated, healthy.

2. Mother-in-law: willing to baby-sit, attractive, generous, well-dressed, rich, good at organizing home, has many interests, doesn’t interfere, lives nearby.


Text II


1. Whilst a relationship is unique, both partners have to interact with the outside world. Work, holidays, friends, family, in-laws, past relationships, children, money, ill-health are some of the outside influences which can either enhance or hinder a close relationship.

2. Within a partnership a couple need to feel equal and valued by each other. If the messages from outside deny this, then it is difficult, but not impossible to restore the balance.

3. The sharing of the workload within the home is another very significant area which needs to be negotiated openly.


1. Just as it is normal to have wants, needs and expectations, it is also natural to have doubts. Different standards of personal hygiene, citizenship, family loyalty, education and cultural or religious background, all of which shape us into what we are, create our doubts. Both partners are entitled to their own code of conducts and moral obligations, but they need to make sure that their partner understands why they have those beliefs and principles in order to tolerate them. Doubts are signals which tell us that there is some unfinished business around which needs to be clarified and checked out.


1. Conflict is part of every human experience. Most of us fear it and yet we meet it at home, at work and in our community. When conflict is delayed or suppressed, it grows and expands until eventually there is an explosion when both partners can no longer control their strong emotions. They use words as weapons in an attempt to display the strength of their feelings.

2. Conflict within relationships can be divided into two parts. The first part involves the facts. These may focus around what the partner has done or committed to do.

3. The second part of conflict concerns the emotions. Some of the very strong and common feelings aroused are as follows: anger, suspicion, resentment, frustration, malice, jealousy.

4. Many relationships deepen and become more rewarding once both partners have learned how to work through to the other side of conflict.


I. Give the definitions of the following words:

1. divorce

2. divorced

3. divorcee

4. split

5. split up

6. separate


II. Read the text. Translate it using a dictionary.


III. Make up dialogues using your own opinion.


IV. Write down your recommendations on these problems.


Text III


It is commonly assumed that the decision made by a couple to separate or divorce is one single decision. But some couples find that they disagree, in that one wants to part and the other wants to carry on. Sometimes the role of decision-maker is seized by the most powerful partner and this is seen as a very aggressive act by the other partner.



It is easy to offer help, but asking for it can seem a very daunting prospect. The help required can be divided into two main areas. The first is help with practical matters. The second kind of help required is assistance in order to cope with and resolve feelings. It is natural to feel confused by all the emotion and inner turmoil, and some help is available. Close relatives, friends and colleagues can be a tremendous help, although they can also be too involved emotionally. This prevents them from being objective and their strong feelings sometimes become an added burden.

It is necessary sometimes to find someone who is not emotionally involved and who is prepared to listen whilst we think aloud. Agencies offering relationship and marital counselling often spend profitable time with separating people. A marriage counsellor is trained to do this and offers a non-judgemental, accepting and confidential approach. The sessions focus largely on the identification of feeling and then on the understanding of them. The principal need of anyone facing separation or divorce is strength to get on with it. Splitting needs to be seen as a challenge and not as a threat.


I. Read the text using dictionary if necessary.


II. Find English equivalents of the following:

решение, супружеская пара, развод, одно-единственное решение, наиболее сильный партнер, предложить, практические дела, суматоха, огромная помощь, хранить от, ноша, вызов.


III. Make up sentences with this new vocabulary.


IV. Give the synonyms of the following:

a divorce –

a couple –

a partner –

help –


V. Find the odd word out:

1. separate – split up – divorce – division;

2. violence – rudeness – harm – hard


VI. Complete the sentences from the text:

1.      It is commonly assumed that…

2.      Sometimes the role of decision-maker is seized by…

3.      The first is help…

4.      It is natural to feel confused by all the emotion and…

5.      It is necessary sometimes to find someone who is not emotionally involved and…

6.      A marriage counselor is trained…

7.      The principal need of anyone facing separation or divorce is…


VII. Answer the questions:

1.      Is it commonly assumed that the decision to separate is one single decision?

2.      Do all couples agree to part?

3.      Whom is the role of decision-maker seized by?

4.      How can the help be divided?

5.      Who can be a tremendous help?

6.      What do agencies usually do?

7.      Do you agree that splitting needs to be seen as a challenge and not as a threat?


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