Divorce always has major effects on those involved, and it is never easy to let go of the emotional, social, and physical intimacy that a secure relationship provides and strike out on your own. Even though a divorce might be indicative of pre-existing conflicts in the underlying relationship, the divorce permanently cancels out any benefits a healthy marriage could have provided in the lives of the adults and children in the family. Instead, coping with life after a divorce usually means dealing with turmoil and trauma, especially when there are children involved in the split.
Dealing with life on your own means you will be exposed to a variety of problems that happily married couples do not face. When compared to their single counterparts, married people have been shown to experience fewer problems with depression and alcoholism, and they also enjoy lower overall mortality rates and greater personal happiness. Because you are divorced does not necessarily mean all is lost however, as it is often a better choice than remaining in an unhappy marriage. Staying in a distressed marriage can create serious physical and psychological conflicts. Numerous studies have shown that the levels of stress and turmoil in troubled marriages are associated with real physical problems like cancer, heart disease and chronic pain.
Helping Children Cope with Divorce
Even though divorce can be a difficult transition for adults to make, both spouses usually view the termination of their marriage as a temporary crisis that will eventually improve with the passage of time. For the children involved however, a divorce might look like a permanent situation from which there is no escape. Children almost always have a more difficult time coping with a divorce than the adults do and the event is often a very unpleasant shock and surprise for the kids. The bleak reality of suddenly living with just one parent instead of two can cause depression, confusion, and hopelessness. As with the adults, the children of divorce are also exposed to an increased risk of a variety of different physical and psychological problems including depression, health problems, difficulties in school and behavior problems like drug use and delinquency. In the end, a child’s ability to cope with a divorce is usually dependent on two things; the level of development the child has reached and the custodial parent’s ability to handle the situation and provide adequate guidance.
Finances: Making Do with Less
Coping with the negative financial consequences of a divorce can be equally difficult for both children and adults when everyone obviously has to make do with less. The financial devastation of divorce is hard to ignore when one considers that almost all of the welfare assistance in the nation is now distributed to single-parent homes and almost all of the children living below the poverty line are in the care of unmarried or divorced parents. Coping with custody arrangements is another fact of divorce that families have to deal with, and custody can be granted to one parent, both parents, or even someone outside the home. Court-mandated custody is based on what is in the best interests of the children and the court will always consider the health, safety and welfare of the children before weighing any input from the parents. Coping with child custody after a divorce also means that the adults will have to come to some type of mutual agreement on the terms of the subsequent visitation arrangements too.
Coping with Outside Pressures
Because coping with the consequences of divorce is so difficult for both individuals and society as a whole today, it serves to emphasize the importance of strengthening the institution of marriage whenever possible to create relationships that can weather the pressures and problems of modern life. People who think their marriage will always be solid are often taken by surprise when outside pressures rise up to threaten their once stable relationships. Two of the biggest problem areas that can damage a stable marriage are issues surrounding money and sex.
Although basic spousal communication difficulties can obviously magnify any other existing problems and eventually result in a lack of intimacy, disagreements related to money and sex seem to create the most stress. Regardless of how strong a married relationship is, everyone needs money to exist, and a lack of money or other financial problems can tear a marriage apart quickly. Likewise with sex, dissatisfaction in the bedroom also causes many marriages to fail.
Building Strong Relationships
In the end, coping with a divorce is an extension of coping with life, except you have to accomplish it on your own without the advantages provided by a stable relationship and stable household. Hopefully, the many well-documented disadvantages of divorce will cause more married couples to try to better cope with their relationship problems before they blossom into larger issues that are ultimately even more difficult to cope with later on.