If you are unhappily married, will divorce make you happy? Research says no. In fact, the opposite is true. Divorce tends to not alleviate depression, improve self esteem, or increase feelings of mastery of one’s life – key factors in achieving happiness. It is sticking it out through tough times, remaining committed to your partner, and resolving conflict that can make you happy.
According to the University of Chicago, two-thirds of those who are in unhappy marriages and who do not divorce report that they are happy five years later. While only half of those who are in unhappy marriages and who do divorce, report happiness five years later. Additionally, spouses who divorced had more depressive symptoms than their counterparts who stayed together. Some find that the doubts about whether divorce was the right choice linger for many years, further illustrating the less satisfying life after divorce. Many people who divorce realize later that they simply did not have the marriage skills to remain in their first marriage at the time.
Divorce may seem like it will make you happy because it can eliminate some of the stressors you are experiencing. Just don’t forget, divorce creates its own problems. Numerous studies indicate that in addition to decreasing psychological wellbeing, divorce causes financial instability, adversely affects health, and decreases the likelihood that children will be socially adjusted. Any of these factors can lead to further, and possibly greater, unhappiness.
As the saying goes – If the grass seems greener on the other side of the fence, it is because it’s tended to. Before you decide to divorce, ask yourself, have you tended to your marriage by exploring all of your options to achieve marital happiness? Why do you think divorce will make you happier than staying married? Marital mediators are neutral third parties who can help you learn the answers to those questions. A marital mediator can work with you and your spouse to analyze your marriage and understand what is making you feel unhappy in your marriage. A marriage mediator can teach you important marital skills, help you to develop a plan together on how to satisfy each other’s needs, and hopefully become happy in your marriage.