Will Divorce Make me Happier?

Did you know more divorces are filed in January than in any other month?  It’s the “Let’s wait until after the holidays.” mentality, as if somehow it will be less painful to divorce by waiting. Beverly Willett, an opinion editor for USA Today says in a recent article that “If you can wait until January to file for divorce — after the holidays — then you can probably wait indefinitely.”

While waiting until after the holidays may mean one last Christmas Day or New Years with both of you in the same home (for the kids, right?), it certainly doesn’t remove the sting of divorce. And is the sting of divorce really better – for anybody – than the marital unhappiness? In most cases, no.

Numerous studies have shown divorce does not make you happy. Financial loss, increased risk for depression, suicide, and addiction – not only for you but for your children as well – are all byproducts of divorce. And most of us know the likelihood of divorce increases with each subsequent marriage. It’s why I’ve said I’ve never seen a “good divorce”. Is happiness after a divorce possible? Absolutely. But make no mistake, the divorce itself – the separation from your spouse – is not going to be what causes your happiness.

The lure of a divorce is a happiness mirage.  Willett writes The more I take responsibility for the fear of my own unhappiness, the closer I draw to the prospect of genuine joy. It’s not the job of spouses to make each other happy nor is it possible. Happiness is a personal responsibility, and our flawed pursuit-of-greener-pastures approach to divorce further proves it.”

Another reason not to rush into divorce, is the potential long-term prognosis of your marriage even if the current outlook seems questionable. Studies have shown marital quality actually improves over the years for couples who stick it out. Specifically, one study which compared spouses that stayed married with those that divorced, found that while marital happiness declined slightly in the early years of marriage, it actually improved after about 20 years for most longtime married couples. It also found that discord improved continuously over time as well.

Folks, there really can be hope for most troubled marriages. Divorce does not have to be your only option.  My own marriage is living proof of this! If you’d like to learn more about the work we do at The Marriage Place to help individuals and couples rescue their troubled marriages, you can contact us here.

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  • Nellie says:

    I totally agree if both spouses, especially the one leaning out, were to choose to make things work-so would the relationship and there would be a incline of marriage satisfaction.
    But if the leaning out spouse has already determined that divorce will make her happy and wants no chance of reconciliation then the marriage is doomed, especially after threatening divorce almost 3 yrs ago and no longer investing in it.

    • kimbowen says:

      Hi Nellie, I’m sorry you find yourself in this situation. You are right that it only takes one of you wanting to divorce to effectively end the marriage. That’s a tough spot to be in when you are the spouse wanting the marriage to work. My post was actually written for those struggling in their marriage and possibly contemplating divorce, potentially someone like your spouse. Nellie, if you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to reach out and arrange a time to work with one of our coaches who specialize in marriage rescue situations where the spouse is leaning out. Perhaps there are still some things you can do that would help your spouse view the marriage in a different light or with renewed hope. Wishing you better days ahead, Kim