Divorce This Emotional Life - PBS

Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Relationships

		

Divorce

These days, divorce is a fact of life. Estimates are that 45% of all marriages end in divorce.

Usually, a relationship comes to an end after years of unhappiness. Individuals then face the daunting, expensive, and unpleasant tasks of untangling their years of togetherness, including housing, kids, money, and belongings. Aside from making the marriage work in the first place, what can we do to make this wrenching transition healthier?

Challenges

Challenges

Understanding the challenges and risks of divorce can help you deal with those challenges if you are divorcing. A few of the top challenges include:

  • Money becoming tighter from legal fees, having one income instead of two, and supporting two households instead of one
  • A greater risk for abusing drugs or alcohol
  • A greater risk for having a mental health problem like depression
  • A change in how much time is spent with children and a change in how children are raised

 

Children & divorce

Children and divorce

A parent moving out, moving to a new location or school, seeing parents less, even seeing a parent date somebody new—the effects of divorce on children are huge. Children may fantasize about their parents getting back together, or they may have trouble sleeping.

Challenges for children:

  • A greater risk of having a mental health issue like an eating disorder or depression
  • Social withdrawal
  • Less success in school
  • Behavioral problems
  • A greater risk for abusing drugs or alcohol
  • A greater risk for antisocial behavior, including violence, aggression, or criminal behavior
  • More difficulty with relationships and trust in adulthood


Custody: minimizing the hurt
There are many ways that parents can help their children cope with a divorce. How custody issues are managed makes all the difference. Studies have shown that children do best with predictable visiting schedules that are free of conflict.


Helping a child through a divorce
By respecting your children and providing a fair and reassuring presence, you can strengthen your relationship with them and help them handle this difficult time.

 

Tips for helping a child handle a divorce:

  • Discussing the divorce before it happens in an age-appropriate way
  • Being open and available for questions
  • Reading children’s books together about divorce
  • Telling your child that the divorce is not his fault
  • Not arguing with the other parent in front of your child
  • Continuing to talk to the other parent about your child’s developmental milestones and parenting issues
  • Avoiding criticizing the other parent in front of your child
  • Making your child’s needs a high priority and being sensitive to her feelings
  • Avoiding quizzing your child about his visit with the other parent
  • Being a consistent parent and supportive of the other parent

 

Myths about divorce

Myths about divorce

Even if your marriage is unhappy, you should stick it out for the sake of the children.
Research has found that while parents’ unhappiness has a negative effect on children, so does divorce—and in fact children’s situation and outcomes are generally worse after divorce. However, it isn’t so much the divorce itself that seems to be harmful for children as the volatility and conflict in the family. What matters the most is the quality of your interactions with your child and how you handle conflict with your partner or ex in the presence of your child, whether you stay together or divorce.

If you become unhappy in your marriage, it will probably end in divorce eventually.
All marriages have their ups and downs, and many married people find that they are unhappy at some point. Being unhappy at certain points of your marriage does not necessarily mean that things can’t get better or that you will inevitably end up divorced.

It’s easy to make a mistake with your first marriage, but people mature and learn, so second marriages tend to be more successful.
While many people who divorce have successful subsequent marriages, the divorce rate of remarriages is actually higher than that of first marriages. Remarriages can be complicated if they involve blended families. Stepfamily relationships can put stress on a marriage.

Children who grew up in a home broken by divorce are less likely to divorce themselves because they’ve learned from their parents’ mistakes.
Children whose parents divorced actually have a higher rate of divorce than children from intact families. Even so, the majority of children from divorced backgrounds do not experience divorce themselves.

It is hard for a divorced woman to remarry.

According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of divorced women went on to marry within five years; three-quarters within 10 years.

Find Help

Locate mental health and well-being support organizations in your area.