Impact of divorce on the mental health of the couple


Academic Paper, 2019

17 Pages, Grade: A


Excerpt

Contents

Impact of divorce on the mental health of the couple

Introduction

Analysis and discussion

Relationship between divorce and mental wellness

Relationship between divorce and mental health disorders

Effect of divorce on the future relationships of the affected couple and their children

Impact of divorce on children of the affected couples

Conclusion

References

Impact of divorce on the mental health of the couple

Introduction

Dissolution of marriage is not always a happy event. At the very least, divorce is often marked by disappointment, loss of dreams and shuttered expectations. In addition, divorce comes with multiple legal, financial, parental, emotional and practical issues that require the affected couple to significantly change responsibilities and routines, thus it can take people several years to regain equilibrium (Rognmo et al., 2013). Though some studies have indicated that divorce serves an important function that legally and emotionally free people to pursue better relationships, it has also been reported that it can lead to adverse emotional effects (Akter & Begum, 2012). For instance, recent studies have suggested a possible significant association between divorce and alcohol abuse as well as divorce and psychopathology (Sharma, 2011). In this regard, the researcher examines the potential impacts of divorce on the mental health and relationships of the affected couples and their families.

This rest of this paper is divided into two sections i.e. analysis and discussion and conclusion. In the analysis and discussion section, the researcher provides the results of the findings. The contents of this section include an analysis of the relationship between divorce and mental wellness, relationship between divorce and mental health disorders and effect of divorce on adult and children relationships. Finally, the researcher provides a summary of the study and implications of the study.

Analysis and discussion

Divorce generally refers to termination of a marriage or a marital union. Divorce usually involves cancellation or reorganization of a person’s legal duties and responsibilities which were extended to him/her through marriage or bonds of matrimony. In most countries, divorce is required by law so as to allow the former partner to marry another person (Gilman, Kawachi, Fitzmaurice & Buka, 2003). However, divorce is not usually a smooth process and has significant impacts on the partners’ physical, social, economic and even mental health and wellbeing. Divorce results in adverse changes on a person’s behaviors or psychological health. Among children, divorce can negatively affect the academic performance of the child. Specifically, divorce has negative impact on the families’ financial stability, social environment, academic/employment performance as well as the psychological and physical well-being of the family (Lucas, 2007).

Relationship between divorce and mental wellness

Divorce has been cited as one of the risk factors for mental health disorders and adverse effects on mental wellness. Basically, mental wellness is related to the feelings of being balanced, connected to others and ready to meet one’s life challenges. In this regard, mental wellness is just as important to a person as their physical health (Lucas, 2007). Mental wellness influences healthy routines that will lead to improvement of self-esteem, assist in mental function and make it easier to deal with stress. Mentally well people tend to be more positive, self-assured and happy. In addition, a mentally well person is in control of their thoughts, emotions and behavior (Rognmo et al., 2013). As a result, mentally well people are able to handle challenges, build strong relationships and enjoy life. Married people tend to have a positive attitude thus form better home environments compared to divorced partners.

Socio-economic status within the family is another major determinant of mental wellness. According to studies, drastic changes into the economic status of the family will have a significant adverse impact on the mental status of the affected people. Most average families are likely to experience poverty after divorce. Rognmo et al (2013) showed that 75 percent of women who apply for welfare benefits tend to come from disrupted marriage or disputed relationship. As a result, the standards of living among women significantly drop as a result of marriage dissolution. Lucas (2007) estimated that income of women will fall by between 27 percent and 70 percent in the case of divorce. Contrastingly, many studies have shown that men may actually experience improved standards of living in the event of divorce. According to Gilman et al (2003) unhappiness in marriage tends to increase the probability of the wife seeking employment so as to be less dependent on the man. In a recent Canadian study, the researchers found that women who earns closer to their husbands will seek happiness in marriage and in case of unhappiness they will seek divorce. In this case, the chances of divorce increases and income of women rises.

The economy of the family will also worsen in case of a divorce especially when the income of one partner is much higher than the other. The partner with lower income will thus be adversely affected by divorce. According to a 2001 study, women who suffered divorce tend to experience sharp declines in their family incomes even if they subsequently remarry or cohabit. The study found that single divorced women’s median family income dropped by approximately 45 percent after divorce (Gilman, Kawachi, Fitzmaurice & Buka, 2003). On the other hand, economic status of the custodial parents is also drastically affected due to the child’s presence. The parents with the child custody experiences up to 52 percent drop in household income. Due to lost income and probability of descending into poverty, even their children will suffer worse development outcomes compared to other children. For example, children of divorced parents have been found to be more likely to get pregnant and give birth outside marriage especially when they experienced the divorce during their mid-teen years (Rognmo et al., 2013).

Relationship between divorce and mental health disorders

Mental illnesses or mental health disorders encompasses a wide range of mental health conditions that affect mood, thinking and behavior. Some of the most common mental illnesses include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. A mental illness makes the affected person miserable and unable to effectively participate in their day to day activities such as work and even relationships. Most studies show that married people are less likely to suffer from mental disorders and tend to have a high level of psychological and emotional wellbeing compared to those who are single, divorced or cohabiting. For instance, Rognmo et al (2013) highlighted that marriage offers a protection against the feelings of loneliness by providing a sense of greater love and intimacy. Recent survey indicated that up to 80 percent who attend divorce recovery classes also suffered from some form of mental illness or disorder or dealt with a partner who suffered from one or more mental health conditions (Akter & Begum, 2012). The survey also showed that most people who suffered from mental health concerns had additional barriers to attaining intimacy or had trouble to consistently engage in behaviors that supported marriage. In the case of divorce, studies have confirmed a higher rate of mental illnesses. According to a 2011 multinational study of mental disorders, marriage and divorce, a sample of 18 illnesses were found to increase with divorce with others increasing at a rate of even up to 80 percent (Akter & Begum, 2012).

Addictions and depressions were the most common mental illnesses which were enhanced by divorce. In most cases, addictions are associated with lack of personal responsibility and can sometimes propel the other spouse into over-responsibility. An addicted person finds it difficult to be intimate with their partners as their priority becomes fulfilling their addictive desire. Addicted people also have a tendency to blame the world or other people including their spouse for their unhealthy marriage. According to a recent survey, alcohol abuse is responsible for at least 20 percent of the risk of getting divorce. Sharma (2011) indicated that being married to alcohol abuser is associated with adverse outcomes such as increased risk of experiencing violence, poor physical health and poor mental health. Though the relationship between alcohol abuse and spousal mental health is unclear, the adverse factors associated with being married to alcohol abuse provides a reason to believe that divorcing an abuser may lead to mental health problems for the non-abusing spouse. A health selection hypothesis suggest that alcohol consumers are less desirable partners, reflected in the lowered possibility of getting married (Lucas, 2007). In contrast, married couples are more likely to cease or control the use of alcohol and drugs due to better self-control. Studies showed that married women had fewer alcohol problems.

Conversely, depression can also lead to divorce as it facilitate lack of engagement between partners in a relationship as well as the inability to fulfill family or work expectations. Most men in marriage show depressive symptoms through anger while women become difficult to live due to constant irritability, hostility and angry outbursts (Morris & West, 2001). The spouse of a person suffering from depression will also feel the weight of additional responsibilities in the family and finances leading to resentment and burnout. Moreover, there was a significant relationship between divorces with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Researchers also revealed that there was a strong association between personality disorders and increased divorce rates with highest rates reported in the cases of antisocial personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder. Bipolar disorders were associated to divorce depending on the length and severity of the depressive episodes and the amount of life stress linked with the manic episode (Akter & Begum, 2012).

Marital problems are also associated with anxiety. People with chronic anxiety tend to seek a high amount of emotional support from the partner. When this support is lacking then the person’s level of anxiety will rise. On the other hand, people in healthy marriages or relationships suffer lower levels of psychological distress than those in divorced or separated families. Research shows that married people have low levels of stress hormones (Gottman, 2015). For instance, married women feel loved and intimate with their partners thus less ambivalence and experiences less conflicts. The spouses of a person who suffer from mental health illnesses or disorders have to deal with insecurity, fear, shame and blame. According to relationship expert John Gottman, criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling in relationships will ultimately lead to divorce (Sharma, 2011).

Effect of divorce on the future relationships of the affected couple and their children

1. Couple’s new relationships

Divorce is usually a difficult experience for both adults and can potentially have adverse consequences on their future relationships. According to Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love, intimacy, passion and commitment are three main pillars of successful relationships (Sternberg, 1997). This theory defines intimacy as the feelings of closeness, connectedness and bondedness in loving relationships while passion is the drive that leads to romance, physical attraction and sexual consummation. Commitment is a person’s decision to love one another and commitment to maintain that love. Based on this theory, the amount a spouse or partner experiences will depend on the absolute strength of these three pillars and how these pillars relate to one another (Sternberg, 1997). Divorce does not only weaken these three pillars of love, but also could have a significant impact on the strength of future relationships. In some cases, divorce can also lead to happier and even stronger pillars in the future. For instance, studies show that adults with steady jobs and have more resources tend to cope better with divorce (Boden, Fergusson & Horwood, 2012). However, those who do not have sufficient income report more stress usually associated with financial strain and could impact on their ability to start a healthy relationship based on the three pillars of love.

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Details

Title
Impact of divorce on the mental health of the couple
College
Kenyatta University
Grade
A
Author
Year
2019
Pages
17
Catalog Number
V512921
ISBN (eBook)
9783346103802
ISBN (Book)
9783346103819
Language
English
Tags
impact
Quote paper
Difrine Madara (Author), 2019, Impact of divorce on the mental health of the couple, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/512921

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