In America, there is one divorce approximately every 35 seconds. That’s nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 876,000 divorces a year.
The divorce rate in America for people 50 or older has doubled since 1990, according to a study by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green University in Ohio. And as the American population steadily ages, gray divorces will keep rising: By 2030, it is estimated that 800,000 will occur annually.
The conventional wisdom until recently was that if you divorced, you were going to be broke, unhappy and sexless—and, your children were going to be permanently messed up. Social scientists had us convinced that marriage was the path to happiness and raising successful children. As a result, many women spent their lives in unhappy marriages, convinced that if they untied the knot they were in for disaster.
Newly released studies have debunked this marriage mythology. In fact, the evidence shows that divorced women are finding their lives are often healthier, happier and more fulfilling than those of their married counterparts. And they are learning that they can raise healthy, happy, successful children on their own.
Marriage Doesn’t Mean Higher Self- Esteem
In a landmark study on the link between romantic relationships and self-esteem, the researchers concluded that there is nothing magical about marriage. A relationship improves self-esteem only if the relationship is well-functioning and stable. People who married enjoyed no better selfesteem than those who were in romantic relationships without tying the knot.
Marriage Doesn’t Mean Better Health
A recently debunked myth is that people who marry are healthier than their single counterparts. Recent studies reveal that women who got divorced were slimmer and drank less than those who were married. The women who divorced ate healthier, exercised more, and had smaller waists than married women.
Children Do Better in a Stable Single-Parent Home
The psych-experts long promoted the idea that children fared better in unhappy families than broken ones. Books were written on the devastating, long-term impact of divorce on kids. This discourse failed to differentiate between marriages. Studies have now shown that combative relationships, as well as cold and contemptuous ones, are oftentimes more harmful to children than breakups. Children raised within high-conflict marriages end up with more behavior problems on average than those raised in stable single-parent families.
Single People are Having More Sex than Married People
The average person now has sex around nine fewer times per year than the average person in the early ‘90s. But this is not true for all groups. Singles are now having sex more often than married people are.
Is it Time to End Your Marriage?
Repeated infidelity, substance addiction and physical abuse are obvious reasons to cut and run. But there are other insidious problems that can wear away at the fabric of a marriage, like a spouse who speaks to you disrespectfully, takes you for granted, is no longer there for you emotionally or constantly fights with you.
Sometimes there are no clear-cut issues at all: You’re just not happy. Yet that general sense of malaise can also eat away at a marriage. If the relationship has gotten to the point that it’s adversely affecting your health, like causing stress-related headaches or stomach problems, then it’s time to consider a couples’ therapist. If that doesn’t help, it may be time to end the relationship. But what if it hasn’t reached such an extreme? How do you know when to let go then?
Bottom line: You have to decide for yourself how much is enough. Start by asking yourself: Am I happy? Am I fulfilled by my marriage? Am I willing to go to couples counseling? Do I even want to fix my marriage?
The answers can help you figure out whether to let go or try harder. Parting ways with a spouse is difficult because you’ve committed your life to this person. We hold those vows sacred. And when you have children, deciding to divorce can be even harder. However, when a marriage isn’t working despite your best efforts, you need to accept that, allow yourself to grieve, then move on.
There’s no question that it’s going to be difficult, and though friends and family (especially those who are divorced themselves) can offer much-needed support, it’s important to have an informational chat with a lawyer to prepare yourself— even if you’re still in the thinking-about-it stage. Spending an hour with an attorney who specializes in family law can help you understand what your rights are, what legal steps you’ll need to take, and how to prepare yourself for a separation. And you should do this well in advance of pulling the trigger so that you can take steps to protect yourself financially.
After all the sadness and tears, you’ll eventually come to a place of acceptance. And you’ll realize that life does go on after divorce. Here’s how to get there a little faster: Visualize yourself being happy in the future. Close your eyes and imagine that you are walking down the street feeling comfortable and free. Seeing yourself happy can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Based on the book The Divorce Hacker’s Guide to Untying the Knot. © 2018 by Ann E. Grant, JD. Reprinted with Permission from New World Library. NewWorldLibrary.com.
Ann E. Grant, JD, began her career as a corporate litigator specializing in unfair business practices and consumer fraud. After her own divorce she created her own firm, focusing on family law and a holistic approach to this life transition. TheDivorceHacker.com.