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.
Is divorce 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 children affected.
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.