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''Sure, I noticed them drift apart,'' a 21-year-old woman remarked.

''But then I surveyed the marriages in our neighborhood, and nobody was exactly hearing violins, so I relaxed and told myself that Mom and Dad were like every other couple who had spent half their lives in one relationship.'' An unexpected finding was that more than half the youngsters surveyed had glorified the marriage preceding its breach, claiming theirs was ''the all-American family,'' their parents were ''the ideal couple'' - and ''the envy of everyone they knew.'' ''I mean I wasn't exactly naive about divorce,'' a 19-year-old woman explained. So when they split up, all our friends were just as freaked out as I was.'' When the veil of denial began to lift and reality took hold, these young adults experienced a profound sense of loss.

'' one young woman asked in barely muted exasperation.

''If I had known, I would have helped them find a marriage counselor.

As each parent began living with new partners, the young adults surveyed said that they felt estranged from the resented interloper and displaced by the new mate's younger (often live-in) children.

Last modified 02-Jul-2016 13:34