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Survey makes some eye-opening findings concerning impact of divorce

Last month, Gallup-Healthways released its much-anticipated Well-Being Index, a “scientific survey instrument and reporting experience [that] measures, tracks and reports on the well-being of individuals.”

The survey, based on 131,159 interviews with adults here in the U.S., assigns a “Well-Being” score to particular demographics based on their performance in five different categories: purpose, financial, social, physical and community.

While a complete breakdown of the survey is clearly beyond the scope of a single blog post, it did make some fascinating findings concerning divorce and separation:

  • Married people had a higher overall well-being rating than those who were divorced or separated.
  • Women were found to experience more stress during separation or divorce than men, and saw higher rates of substance abuse than their married counterparts.

What’s behind these findings?

According to the researchers, the reason married people saw higher overall well-being ratings than those who were divorced or separated likely boils down to marriage providing a support network, as well as what they define as a “a sense of purpose,” and “shared perspective on life.”

“[M]arriage can expand a person’s social connections and relationships, increase household wealth and lead to a more permanent housing selection and a related connection to the community,” further posited the study.

As for the finding that divorce and separation perhaps hits women the hardest, experts, unaffiliated with the study, have attributed this to the idea that many women struggle not just with the usual divorce-related anxieties, but also struggle with the possibility of seeing their role as primary caregiver to the couple’s children diminished.

Similarly, these experts have argued that women may also struggle more with the weight of societal expectations — strong marriage, happy home life — going unfulfilled.

These findings are indeed eye-opening and highlight how anyone either mulling a divorce or engaged in the process — both women and men — could strongly benefit not only from having an experienced legal professional by their side, but an experienced mental health professional as well.

Source: The Deseret News, “Stress, substance abuse rise more for women who divorce or separate,” Lois Collins, Oct. 26, 2014

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