cause and effects of divorce

On that beautiful day when two people decide to be joined in matrimony they hope their lives won’t result in a divorce, but often that isn’t the case. There are many things that cause a divorce to occur leaving the partners to become individuals, and children to deal with long and short term stressors. Unfortunately in America, Only about half of marriages are for the better, leaving nearly 1 million children to cope with the effects of divorce, most before the age of 18 (Jenish). When life causes two people to resort to divorce, all parties are in some way effected but the repercussions are different when it comes to the children involved. A divorce may be a mutual decision or one sided; it can bring feelings of content or turmoil. No matter how a divorce comes to be there is always a reason for the decision and lives that were once close nit are now separated. A divorce occurs when one, or both, partners is unhappy with the relationship. Thus the question that needs answering is, “What causes someone to feel that being apart will make them happier?” In order to really understand what caused two people to get divorced you would have to look at their personal lives before and after marriage to determine what changed. A change in the relationship indirectly causes the divorce, the way the change influences a person can be directly seen as the main cause. For example if a husband cheats on his wife, the wife no longer trusts him and no longer wants to be with him. In this instance the change was the husband choosing to be intimate with another woman. The wife may then become insecure about herself, unable to trust her husband, and develop feelings of anxiety and depression. These feelings cause her to no longer be happy with the relationship and a divorce is implemented. Since no two people are alike no two relationships, or divorces, will be the same. Whatever may have caused the divorce, everyone is affected by this alteration in their lives.

After a divorce both sides must deal with the effects this decision has on their personal lives, and where to go from there. Everybody will deal with the after math of divorce differently. Each partner now has to figure out how to live on their own. If your partner was the main source of income your financial position will become a main concern. Many new emotions will arise immediately after the divorce that a person will has to learn to deal with and cope through. Then there’s the process of starting over with a new relationship. Whether or not to start a new relationship depends on an individual’s age, state of mind, and goals. A person may put off seeking a new relationship if they are older, focusing on other things such as a career, or if the relationship they just divorced from was traumatic in some way. Their now separate lives will bring new obstacles for a person to overcome. Up to this point I have only focused on a divorce where there is only the husband and wife involved. Adding children to the divorce creates a whole different series of effects to the process. Child Custody is a major effect for the divorce of parents. When a court decides who gains custody of the children, or how custody will be shared. A divorcing parent must now deal with a whole new concept of caring for their children. When a child is young the court looks at the lives of both parents to determine if one parent is better fit to care for the child than the other. When full custody is granted to one parent they have the say on how involved the other parent may be in the child’s life. If dual custody is granted both parents must decide how to “share” the child. If the child is between the ages of 12-15, the age varies from state to state, they get to decide who they want to live with. No good parent wants their children to be taken from them so many emotions are held high during this time.

The biggest effect of a divorce is how it influences the children involved. A 1994 study at Arizona State University claimed that the actual divorce isn’t what affects the child, it’s the post-divorce stressors the child experience. The study showed that a child may try a range of coping methods over time to deal with a single stressor, and that using one coping strategy may lead to the use of another. Avoidance and distraction was mainly used for short-term stressors but not helpful for long term issues. Types of active and supportive methods were shown to be successful for long term effects (Sandler, Tein, & West). No matter their age at the time of the divorce their lives are dramatically affected from the result. 20-50% of these children will suffer long term trauma. A 15 year study, by psychologist Judith Wallerstein, studied 130 children of divorce and found that boys were immediately affected and extroverted with their grief, where girls were more introverted and showed long term symptoms (Gleick). Both boys and girls of divorce were at higher risk to turn to substance abuse, depression, and intimacy problems. The oldest child is affected more than their younger siblings. They are put in a position where they need to step up and take on more responsibilities they otherwise wouldn’t have to. This role can cause extreme stress, especially on younger children, who are not prepared for these types of responsibilities and pressures (Sandler, Tein, & West).

Sadly, in our society divorce is common and almost expected. We can’t pinpoint a specific cause for divorce, that would just be too easy. What we do know is that changes occur in a marriage that causes people to decide not to be together. Divorce affects the lives of the married couple in many ways, because they are now individuals instead of partners. The effects divorce has on the children involved dramatically change their future due to the various stressors they have to deal with. The only positive thing that has come from the frequency of divorce are the various programs that have been created and made available to help adults, and children, of divorce cope with these negative effects. Hopefully one day our society will again remember what marriage is supposed be about and how severe the effects are for those involved.

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