The Broken Window Theory of Crime Applied to Broken Marriages
The Broken Window theory of crime suggests that not attending to small infractions leads to an avalanche of larger crimes. If broken windows are not repaired, vandals will continue to smash them.
All well and good, and I agree. Crime aggregates, and failure to confront vandalism leads to societal dissolution. But there is another type of community failure that has not been addressed -- that's broken marriages.
I teach boxing at Gleason's Gym. In the last fifteen years, I have not run into a kid who is living with both his parents. They all come from divorced families and are shuttled back and forth between their parents' homes, dealing with stepsiblings who come from their parents' serial marriages.
This may or may not lead to aggravated crime, but it certainly leads to emotional pain and confused dissolution of the founding hierarchy of our civilization. Familial anarchy is its own emotional crime. The windows are broken in a divorce. The love is shattered on the ground, and children's faces are cut looking through the shattered glass.
The other day, one of my students, Jack, told me that his parents were divorced and his dad was remarried. He lives half the week at each household. This is so typical that it is almost as if a single marriage is corny. His parents are academics, and they aren't smart enough to figure out how to control their emotions through a long-term relationship.
I blame my generation for the high divorce rate. Our hippie culture was too solipsistic to compromise. We were human failures while we boasted about how open-minded and wonderful we were. We were typical leftists. We were Obama-types. We speechified about magnificence while we sent our families and our countries downhill. Just as Obama bragged about jobs his stimulus program didn't really create, we bragged about how divorce healed the family and made us happy.
Obama says the impossible -- that layering on administrative agencies in a national health program will reduce taxes, or that stripping the military budget will make us safer. It is as ridiculous as a mother telling her son that he will be happier having his father move out and living with a strange new male in the house.
In the '60s, feminists recommended getting out of difficult marriages. If the windows were broken, they just climbed out of them and disappeared through the yard. Then the children wouldn't have to confront the fighting within the household.
The libbers and the swingers never stopped to think that children might prefer the security of a two-parent household to the lack of conflict in a divorced household. The sadness of separation can be worse than the conflict of accommodation. How many children blame themselves for their parents' failures to work things out? If only they had been better sons and daughters, the parents might not have split. Our generation has fallen apart at the core, and our broken windows have cut into the possible maturity and peace of our children.
As unrepaired vandalism leads to the spread of crime, divorce leads to emotional anger and confusion. Better to fix the broken window. Better to go into counseling with your mate and make a genuine effort to repair the cracks in the glass. Better to realize that the problem begins with you, not your spouse. Adjustment is a solution.
Last night I called my eighty-seven-year old father in Florida. He had played tennis and golf that day. My mom has been dead for ten years. I told my father, "I just want to thank you for having stayed married to mom for all those years."
"Why now?" he asked.
I told him Jack's story. I told him the story of all of my students. I know he felt good about himself. I knew he was proud to have been a good family man. And I felt that I had been saved from an unhappy life by his willingness to compromise with my mother for the sake of the family, for the sake of himself, for the sake of my mother.
He didn't break windows. He repaired them.