Could Divorce Actually Boost Happiness in the Long Run?

While divorce is far from a pleasant process, a new study suggests that, in some cases, it may actually boost your long-term happiness. This was especially true for women who had low-quality marriages to begin with. So, if you are thinking about filing for divorce, but are worried about what the future may hold, the key to deciding whether or not you should proceed may rest within the day-to-day interactions you have with your spouse. The following information provides more insight, and can help you understand how to proceed, should you decide to file.

Low-Quality Marriages and Your Happiness

Published in the Journal of Family Psychology, the recent study examined the happiness level of 1,639 men and women between the ages of 25 and 74 – once while they were married, and again 10 years later. Not all of them had divorced in that time period. In addition, researchers asked questions about each person’s marriage to determine its “quality.” For example, participants were asked how much their spouse really understood the way they felt about things, and if they were often criticized.

In the end, women who were in low-quality marriages at the start of the study who then later divorced had a higher level of satisfaction than those who decided to stay. Furthermore, previous studies have indicated that staying in poor quality marriage can actually have adverse effects on your health and overall quality of life. In fact, women who stay in unhappy and low-quality marriages are more likely to experience psychological distress, depression, and low self-esteem than those who eventually leave.

Determining if Your Marriage is Low-Quality

While you are the only one that can truly decide if divorce is right for you, in light of the new study, it might be helpful in your decision-making process to know whether or not your marriage would be considered of “low quality.” The following are just some of the issues and/or behaviors that are found in low-quality marriages:

  • Substance abuse,
  • Domestic violence,
  • Excessive and/or long-lived conflict,
  • Consistent or excessive criticism,
  • Financial abuse,
  • Guilt and/or blame,
  • Tension (even when things seem to be going well),
  • A lack of empathy or support from your spouse,
  • Neurosis, and
  • Contempt.

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