(55%), usually in her 20's or 30's. Some researchers have found that
women more often report joy as they experience independence and
new competencies (Riessman, 1990). But for the majority of us, losing
love inflicts deep and remarkably lasting wounds.
Divorced women, who get custody of the children, also suffer a
33% decline in their standard of living. Men are considered "better off"
(except they frequently become responsible for another family). Only
about 50% of divorced fathers pay child support regularly; 25% pay
some and 25% pay little or nothing at all. Non-custodial parents (75%
are men) are often depressed and anxious because they feel alienated
from their children. Of the 18 million poor children in this country, over
50% live in a single-parent home caused by divorce. The emotional
and financial neglect of children is appalling (see next section). This
harsh reality underscores the necessity for each parent to be prepared
by him/herself to financially care for the children.
Ideas and books for coping with divorce
Cox (1979) and others have described several pitfalls for recently
broken-up or divorced people: (1) Retreat back into a lonely state of
self-pity and depression. The pain is so great that serious thoughts of
suicide may occur. If so, immediate professional help is necessary. For
many the worst time is several months after the divorce. It is
important to stay socially active and seek out friends. (2) Rebound
back into another love situation too rapidly. An obsession with sex or
with finding the perfect man/woman often interferes with making wise
choices. (3) Escaping through excess, such as alcohol, drugs, sex,
work, food, shopping, etc. (4) Return to the former spouse. This is
tempting but usually foolish and unrealistic because it frequently
doesn't work out, it just prolongs the pain. As mentioned above, within
one year after the divorce, 73% of women and 60% of men wonder if
they have made a mistake. It is usually better to get on with building a
new life. (5) Resentment of the former spouse may rage for years.
Furthermore, this seething anger can harm your children and their
relationship with the ex, your physical and emotional health, and your
interpersonal relations--you can be so unpleasant that others will avoid
you. Divorce is an uncertain, gut-wrenching, destructive, lonely
experience (not for everyone, of course).
If divorce is so awful, then why do we choose that alternative so
often? We may not realize the problems we face alone or with a new
partner. Besides, loud marital conflicts and/or the silence of a dead
marriage are awful too. Many people have little hope of improving the
relationship. It would be hard to choose to continue living with an
unloving, hateful, uninterested partner for another 40 or 50 years. In
our fantasy, as we saw above, it is so easy to find a new exciting
infatuation, so easy to dream of a wonderful future with an ideal
partner. But how many ideal partners are there?