When people go through a
divorce, they often face various psychological and physiological issues, such as
stress, anxiety, depression, weight loss or weight gain, stress-induced
illness, and sleep difficulties.
Along with losing the emotional security net of a spouse and marriage,
and someone to lean on during good times and bad, there’s the stress
of going through the actual divorce process.
Depending on what state the couple lives in, their unique circumstances,
and their net worth, the divorce can be a long-drawn-out process, especially
when spouses are fighting over everything from
child custody to
asset division, to who keeps the wedding china and the beloved Golden Retriever.
It’s no secret that fighting over the children, the home, and the
rest of the money can be a nightmare for many spouses, and these are reasons
why so many people stay in an unsatisfying marriage indefinitely.
always that bad? Does divorce always have negative ramifications on the spouses
and children involved? If you’ve heard the divorce horror stories,
it’s important that you understand that not every spouse and child
of divorce are worse off afterward.
If you ask any divorce attorney, family therapist, or marriage counselor,
you’ll learn that the risk of a poor outcome following a divorce
has much to do with what married life was like
before the spouses physically separated.
While much of the divorce articles and research focus on the negative consequences
of divorce, there have been fewer studies on divorcées and children
who were actually happier after the divorce, sometimes much happier. However,
a recent study in the
Journal of Family Psychology changed that.
Study by the Journal of Family Psychology
According to a
study published by the
Journal of Family Psychology, “Although marital dissolution is associated with increased risk
of poor mental and physical health outcomes, many people report improvements
in functioning after divorce.”
The nationwide study focused on the psychological impact of divorce on
middle-aged adults throughout the United States. The Midlife in the United
States project (MIDUS) tracked over 7,000 men and women, interviewing
them twice, ten years apart on the following:
- Personality traits
- Emotional issues
- Medical history
- Marital status
- Marital satisfaction
- Overall life satisfaction
This study on divorce in America was conducted by Kyle Bourassa from the
University of Arizona, along with his co-authors. Over 1,600 men and women
participated in the study, all of whom were asked about their marital
status, marital satisfaction, and divorce.
The participants who went through a divorce were asked about their coping
abilities. Not surprisingly, the “life satisfaction” post-divorce
was directly correlated to the quality of the marriage. In particular,
women who were in bad marriages reported being much happier after the divorce.
Since poor quality marriages typically involve verbal or physical abuse,
manipulation, constant criticism, a lack of trust, and poor communication,
divorce frequently brings a great sense of relief for the spouses and
Often, the families affected by such difficult living conditions are happy
to get on with their life and close the door on that chapter. As attorneys
who work with distressed spouses every day, we can attest – despite
its formalities, divorce is often
seen as a reprieve for dissatisfied, or even miserable spouses.
When Cultures Frown Upon Divorce
Since Los Angeles is culturally rich and diverse, we want to take a look
at how divorce is accepted and shunned in various cultures.
Each culture has different views on divorce. Some cultures find divorce
socially acceptable, while others find divorce shameful no matter how
bad of shape the marriage is in.
When men and women are brought up with strong, traditional views on marriage,
their unhappy marriage can be compared to a life sentence, causing them
to feel like their lives are as good as over. This can be especially hard
on women who carry the greatest burden of divorce.
In some cultures, a legal separation is more socially acceptable than a
divorce and where applicable, physically and legally separating can give
spouses a “new lease on life.” If a couple is willing to explore
legal separation, it can often keep their family happy, while improving their personal happiness tenfold.
Are You Contemplating Divorce?
If you are considering divorce, yet are concerned about your life and identity
after a divorce, you want to take a step back and look at the overall
picture, and ask yourself these questions:
- Am I happy?
- Have I been unhappy for a long time?
- Are my children happy with my spouse?
- Do I really have a quality marriage?
- How does my spouse make me feel?
- Do I look forward to seeing and hearing from my spouse?
- Can I imagine spending the rest of my life like this?
- Am I being emotionally, verbally, or physically abused?
Is my spouse
abusive to our children?
- Am I experiencing depression because of my marriage?
- Is my marriage affecting my stress, appetite, or sleep?
- Has my marriage interfered with relationships with family and friends?
- Could my health problems be related to marital stress?
If you are on the receiving end of verbal or physical abuse, and you divorce
to escape these issues, you may find yourself experiencing a huge sense
of relief. You may notice that many aspects of your life, including your
health, relationships, and employment improve in the long-run, even though
you have to face the initial stress of the divorce process.
Kyle Bourassa and the co-authors of the study pointed out that yes, divorce
is often stressful, however, its effect on life satisfaction after divorce
hinges on the
quality of the marriage to being with.
While it’s entirely possible to be happy and flourish after a divorce,
no one should have to take the journey alone. Along with support from
your family, friends, and co-workers, it’s often helpful to work
with a counselor and of course, a good divorce lawyer who will look out
for your best interests from beginning to end.
If you’re considering divorce,
contact our firm to meet with a Los Angeles divorce attorney. All of our initial consultations
are free – we look forward to your call.