Tag Archives: Divorce

6 Divorce Trends that May Surprise You

Click on the graphic below to see in a snapshot some of the most prevalent divorce trends in the U.S. today. On MarriageGems, we have shared details on many of these trends, such as grey divorce rising, and overall marriage and divorce rates falling. #4 shows well-known factors that can decrease the likelihood of divorce, including having a college education, having children after marriage, marrying after age 25, having an income over $50K, and having a religious affiliation (though research I have read indicates the couple needs to be practicing the religion to benefit, not just have the affiliation). #6 is also of interest in explaining some of the income effects on children of divorce vs. children with married parents. You can also see in #1 and #5 the gender (women) who initiate the most divorces, as well as how they break down by race and geography in the U.S.

Do any of these trends surprise or concern you? Do you want to learn more about any of these trends? Divorce rates are much lower in higher income and in college educated circles than most people realize. And even among demographics with multiple risk factors for divorce, you can still be successful in marriage. Don’t lose hope that your marriage can be one of the great success stories.

DivorceXS

Image Source: eLocal.com

Are Pre-Marriage Jitters Predictors of Later Divorce?

The months preceding a marriage should be used by a couple to seriously consider whether they wish to be truly committed to one another and feel that they can do so. It’s not unusual for one or both of them to have questions, concerns or even fears about marriage. Occasionally, these reservations lead them to call off the wedding.

I’ve known several couples who after going through marriage preparation decided not to marry. Rather than considering this a failure, it’s probably good to know early—before they promise to love and honor ‘til death do they part—that at least one of them has serious doubts as to their long-term success. Unfortunately, it’s often just one person in the couple who comes to that conclusion, leaving the other broken-hearted.

A recent study caught my attention that analyzed these pre-wedding jitters of couples who went ahead and got married. Did having these fears predict a later divorce? Psychologists from the University of California, Los Angeles surveyed 250 couples a few months after they got married. They conducted follow-up surveys every six months for four years.

The researchers concluded that wives’ uncertainty before marriage was a better predictor of a later divorce than were husbands’ reservations. They also found the wives who had doubts before marriage tended to be less satisfied with the marriages. And couples in which both partners had doubts were linked with a 20 percent divorce rate.

“Don’t assume that love is enough to overpower your concerns,” said lead study author Justin Lavner. “You know yourself, your partner and your relationship better than anybody else does. If you’re feeling nervous about it, pay attention to that. It’s worth exploring what you’re nervous about.”

Considerably more husbands had doubts about getting married—47 percent—compared with wives at 38 percent. However, the wives’ doubts were better predictors of impending marital trouble. Nineteen percent of the women who had doubts about getting married were divorced within four years, while 8 percent of wives who did not have reservations were divorced four years later. For men, 14 percent of the husbands with doubts were split in four years, compared with 9 percent of husbands who did not have doubts getting hitched.

Researchers said marital jitters were significant predictors even when they took other factors into consideration, including cohabitation, whether the couple had divorced parents, or the difficulty of their engagement.

Newlywed wives with doubts about the marriage were two-and-a-half times more likely to divorce within four years than wives who did not have these doubts. And even the wives (who had doubts) who stayed together after four years were significantly less satisfied with their marriage than wives who did not experience these doubts.

“There’s no evidence that problems in a marriage just go away and get better. If anything problems are more likely to escalate,” said Lavner.  So, for couples not yet married, explore any reservations you may have, and go through premarital preparation to help you discuss important issues before tying the knot.

For couples who are already married, that is not to say marital problems can’t be solved; there is hope for all marriages, and many (experts say most) problems can be solved.

I should also add that I know some individuals who had jitters that faded away once they made the decision to commit to one another. It was the commitment decision itself that gave them jitters, not the person to whom they were engaged. Only you know whether your feelings of doubt are serious or fleeting.

See the story in HealthDay.

Did you have pre-wedding jitters? If so, did they fade or did they become predictors of future problems in your marriage?

Photo by Aleksandr Kutsayev courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Researchers: Divorced friends may have good marriage advice

Some divorced individuals have learning experiences through their divorce that can help others, researchers say. The Early Years of Marriage Project, a long-term NIH-funded study on marriage divorce that began more than 25 years ago found that divorced people may have some valuable insights to share.

The study included 373 couples between the ages of 25 and 37 who were in their first year of marriage in 1986. Nearly half of them divorced, and 70 percent went on to new relationships.

Researchers also found value in asking happily married couples what makes their marriages work. But they concede that the divorced couples can tell about what they learned about marriage the hard way, and what they would do differently. More than 40 percent of the divorced individuals remarried, and they shared some of the things that they carried to their second marriages. Read the TODAY article here for details.

A couple of the points researchers found included:

Nearly half of subjects said money strained their first marriages. That’s why 60 percent didn’t share expenses in their new relationships. Instead of resolving their money issues, they felt it was better to set up a system that kept financial conflict at bay.

Researchers found that men needed “affective affirmation” –such as as compliments or physical contact that shows support from their wives as an important part of their relationship.  Men needed this non-sexual support more than women, because they don’t often hear positive feedback from others in their lives as women do.

It’s too early for the researchers to determine if these second marriages will fare better than their first in the long run. However, the point is that failure often teaches us some important lessons. If you have a divorced friend who tells you he wishes he had shown more affection to his wife, or who says she wishes she had appreciated her husband’s efforts more, those are lessons worth listening to. If they have a lot of anger about their ex, perhaps it’s best to change the subject.

Lori Lowe is the founder of Marriage Gems and author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by imagerymajestic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Relationship Insights for Adult Children of Divorce

If you are an adult child of divorce struggling with your current relationship due to simmering feelings from your past, I highly recommend an insightful piece from a Washington Times columnist called “Children of divorce: chasing affection in the house of guilt.”  It includes data about the effects of divorce on children and advice for  individuals who may fear marriage or fall into unhealthy relationships due to what they experienced as a child.

Jerome Elam says in part, “My revelation after all the years of soul searching is that happiness is something so rare and beautiful that you hold onto it with all your strength. Learn to recognize it when it comes into your life and embrace it despite the fear in your heart.” I found his story to be moving and heart breaking. Check it out here.

U.S. Marriage and Divorce Stats

You may be interested to read the marriage and divorce data  from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2008 (the most recent data available).

  • 52% of men in the U.S. are currently married; 9% are currently divorced
  • 48% of women in the U.S. are currently married; 12% are divorced

Idaho (apparently not just known for potatoes) has the highest percentage of married men and women. You can view the detailed marriage and divorce data by state here.

Warm Welcome to this New Site–Congrats to Laura and Chris, who recently launched the blog, www.twoinfps.com. A new post offers “sage relationship advice from 14 experts” including best tips for relationship happiness. They were kind enough to include some advice from Marriage Gems. You can read the full post here, or just stop by to say hi.

As always, you can check out my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage,  Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.  Have a happy spring! And a happy and blessed holy week and Easter to all those who celebrate it.

Reasons for Boomer Divorce Spike, and How to Prevent Late-Life Divorces

This is part 2 of summarizing Wall Street Journal’s research on why we are currently seeing a spike in late-life divorces (and adding my two cents of course). I am interested in hearing your ideas and reaction as well. For background, read part 1—Is Divorce Booming for Boomers?

In addition to some of the risk factors discussed in the above post, professor and sociologist Susan Brown, the author of The Gray Divorce Revolution, says boomers had different marriage expectations than previous generations. The 70s began a period during which, for the first time, marriage was about “needing to make individuals happy,” explains Brown. Previous generations viewed marriage as an economic union, and then in the 1950s and 1960s as a companionate marriage, which was defined by how each spouse fulfilled his or her role. Individualized marriage became more about using marriage to meet personal needs.

For me, that sets up a red flag, because marriage isn’t intended to “make people happy” or to help them “meet their needs.” Individuals are responsible for their personal and spiritual journey towards joy. We can make that journey with our loved ones, but our loved ones can’t bring happiness to us or force us down a particular path. In addition, we’ve chatted here numerous times about how a spouse cannot be responsible for meeting all of our needs. Having that expectation is rather a recipe for disaster, in my humble opinion. (Read Don’t Expect Your Spouse to Meet All Your  Needs.)

Baby boomers were also focused on achieving self-fulfillment, rather than role fulfillment. “For boomers who have had trouble maintaining commitments in the past, hitting the empty nest phase seems to trigger thoughts of mortality—and of vanishing possibility for self-fulfillment,” according to the WSJ’s Susan Gregory Thomas.

They see their last phase of life as an opportunity to achieve self-fulfillment, but often don’t consider the disastrous economic financial implications (which hit women harder) and the consequences of child custody (which impact men harder).  In other words, they don’t anticipate a change in lifestyle or the loss of their children.

So, how do you avoid getting to this point? Marriage advice from The Gottman Institute is similar for this generation as for younger couples. Spouses need to actively respond to each other’s bids for reconnection and avoid criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. (Read that sentence again, please.) Turn toward one another, even if you’re busy. Make your spouse a priority. Don’t start over with someone new; start over with your spouse and bring your relationship to a higher level. Instead of looking to someone else to meet your needs, figure out what makes you excited and pursue that. Then share your excitement and positivity with your spouse.

I can empathize that adults in their 50s and 60s are looking at what kind of legacy they may be leaving this world. But honestly, what better legacy could there be than adding to the love in the world, leaving an unfractured family filled with love for you and for one another?  

Lori Lowe’s book First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage is now available on Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.  Lori and her husband of 16 years live in Indianapolis with their two children.

Photo by Photostock courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net.

Divorce Harder on Women During Great Recession

The recent recession has made divorce even more of a financial struggle, particularly for women who may have been out of the workforce caring for children.

Despite this fact, more than two-thirds of divorces are filed by women—and most of these are from low-conflict marriages, not where abuse was present in any form. But women may not understand the bleak financial situations they may end up in as a result of divorce.

Years ago, a divorcing friend told me she believed her financial situation would improve after her divorce due to the amount of child support and alimony she expected. Unsurprisingly, her financial situation greatly worsened after she filed for divorce. Within the year, she was filing for bankruptcy while caring for two children, and arguing with her ex about everything from the cost of school clothes to dental bills.

I’m curious about whether at any point she would have liked to go back in time and try to work on her marriage, since her biggest complaint before the split was that her husband just didn’t “get” her, and that they were just too different. I wonder if her previous problems were easier to deal with than seeing her ex quickly remarry, watching her boys raised half the time with a new step-mother with whom she often disagreed, and constantly experiencing money problems.

The moral of the story is that divorce didn’t solve any of her problems; it just created new ones. For some, these problems become so severe that divorced people find they cannot cope, and turn to alcohol or other means of coping. Last I heard, this old friend was using alcohol as her aid, even in front of the children.   

According to a report this week from Reuters, experts say alarming number of women emerge from divorce lacking even basic money management skills, and are deemed financially illiterate. The recession in 2011 has placed added strain on couples and on divorced women in particular. Even for professional women with financial skills, the reality is that a household’s expenses will multiply when split into two separate households. Financial stress and conflict is likely to increase, not decrease, as expenses multiply.

The University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project reports that the divorce rate has closely tracked the roller coaster of our economy during the last several years, with a 24 percent drop between 2008 and 2009 when unemployment rose and many families were facing a mortgage nightmare. In 2009, the divorce rate again dropped, but it is back on the rise as the economy slowly recovers from the recession.

Financial strain and child custody concerns add to the conflict and difficulty of today’s divorce cases. While women file for divorce more often than men, both women and men need to understand they can’t solve their family crises and financial stresses with a divorce. Each spouse needs to have financial understanding of their current situation, even if it’s difficult or complex, and even if professional help is needed to reach this understanding. (Financial advice is far less expensive than a divorce.)

When facing any crisis, couples who view themselves as part of a team (using words like “we” and “us”) working together against a common problem are more successful than those who approach problems individually. See The Power of “We” for details. A pro-marriage counselor can help couples who are at a loss about how to move forward. (Read What’s a Pro-Marriage Counselor, and How Do You Find One?)

If you feel your spouse has been out of line and is too difficult to live with, consider that most couples who stay together during the bad times end up much happier in time if they stay together. (Their children also fare much better.) If you are angry with your spouse, consider the gift of forgiveness, which benefits your marriage, and also helps keep you from having poor emotional and physical health. It’s a gift for the giver and the receiver. Reconciliation and rebuilding a marriage takes commitment and hard work, but forgiveness is an important first step.

Consider that divorce may  not answer any questions or solve any problems; it just may create more of the same or even worse problems than you had before. Think instead about why you chose your spouse, and why you fell in love with him or her. Focus on being grateful for the best parts of your marriage and your spouse and how the two of you can be unified against your current challenges. Share your dreams for a better future, one that you’ll share together.

Note: First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage will be released December 8, 2011 on Amazon.com. Please follow the Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss and check out details at www.LoriDLowe.com. Thank you.

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Photo by David Castillo Dominici courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Sweat the Small Stuff in Your Marriage to Prevent Divorce

Most divorces are not the result of major conflicts, but rather the slow erosion of your marriage. You think your marriage is fine because nothing major has happened, but you’re drifting apart. Wake up, and turn the tide.

Rather than a major tipping point that causes a rift in the marriage, many couples simply lose touch with each other, says Edward M. Hallowell, co-author of Married to Distraction: How to Restore Intimacy and Strenghten Your Partnership in an Age of Interruption. “The ambient noise of life takes over,” he says, adding that couples lose the fun and moments of sustained attention because they are surrounded by stimuli.

Research shows two-thirds of divorces result from low-conflict marriages. In other words, it’s the small stuff that can destroy your relationship and get between you and a great life together.

What stimuli might be causing chaos or interruptions in your life? Is it the hectic pace of life? The intrusion of technology? Is it the sometimes overwhelming nature of child-rearing or over-involvement in extracurricular activities? Is it unfulfilled dreams?

The good news, say the experts, is that low-conflict problems are “highly solveable” compared with affairs, addictions or huge financial debt. However, if ignored, the drudgery of life can be very damaging to your relationship.

“There are a lot of marriages of quiet desperation that just drag on and on until they end in divorce,” says Pamela Haag, author of Marriage Confidential. However, she adds that many marriages can survive if the partners are willing to be flexible and sometimes imaginative with solutions.

“The first step is to have the difficult conversation and actually hazard some honesty with your partner,” she explains. Rather than focusing on how to “stick it out” in marriage, determine how you can change your lives so that you can thrive in your marriage.

Source: Miami Herald

Note: I’m excited to announce that First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage will be released December 8, 2011. Please follow the Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss and check out details at www.LoriDLowe.com. Thank you.

LINK:
Divorce Rate Linked to Education & Race

Photo by Suat Eman courtesty of www.Freedigitalphotos.net.

Why are Women Less Happy than Men in Marriage?

Men are generally happier in their marriages than women are. A survey of men taken by the Chicago Sun-Times showed 78 percent of men would remarry their wives. Another survey by Women’s Day Magazine showed only half of women would choose to remarry their husbands.

Why do you there is such a wide disparity? Some may say it’s because women do more of the work at home and increasingly bring in a second income for the family. Some experts believe that men experience fulfillment more easily than women. Women, on the other hand, have high expectations and romantic inclinations.

Mark Gungor, speaker and author of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage writes that he used to put the blame on men’s shoulders for thoughtless or insensitive. However, he says women file for 80 percent of all divorces and are usually the ones frustrated with the relationship, the disappointed ones. He writes that women’s unrealistic expectations are often responsible for divorce, not inept men.

I’ll say I agree up to a point. Just because a man is happy with the situation doesn’t mean that it’s a positive environment for his wife. However, I will agree that I as a wife have struggled with having unrealistic expectations, and I know other wives do as well. Despite having excellent husbands, we sometimes wish life were a little more romantic. And, truth be told, we wish our husbands could read our minds and know (and fulfill) our deepest longings.

I also agree that women look to their husband to meet too many of their needs, especially with family often living at a distance. While generations ago, women lived and worked together and supported one another, today’s families are much more isolated. So, we expect our husbands to be our confidants, our lovers, our best friends, our emotional supports, and more. We also want them to be good providers and share the workload at home.

Our spouse shouldn’t be expected to meet all of our needs, and he or she cannot be our source of hope or happiness.

“A successful marriage is possible only when two complete and happy people get together for the purpose of building a life together. They do not need the other to be truly happy, complete or emotionally whole,” says Gungor.

This is where I wholeheartedly agree. Yes, men need to feel respected, and women need to feel loved. We need to express our needs and our feelings to our spouse, but we also need to be responsible for creating our own fulfilled and joy-filled lives.

For a better perspective on this, read What if Today Were Your Last Day With Your Spouse; Patty Newbold learns the hard way about dropping unnecessary expectations. Also, check out What Do You Expect From Your Marriage and Mate, especially if you feel life and marriage for you hasn’t been entirely fair lately for you.

LINKS:
Read from the Washington Post about how delaying divorce can save marriages, and how new legislation may be coming to your state. It’s a very interesting proposal by two well-qualified individuals.

Photo by Photostock courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net

Are You Jealous of Your Friend’s Divorce?

Did you know divorce is contagious? If you have a divorced friend, you are 147 percent more likely to get a divorce! One reason is that when a friend or family member divorces, it normalizes divorce and makes it seem more acceptable. Sometimes, they can even make it look fun. But there’s nothing fun about divorce, especially after the first three months of freedom wear off.

I was asked by fellow blogger Stacy Geisinger (StacyKnows.com) to write about these feelings of jealousy which can be common among the still-married friends. These friends may see the new doors and possibilities open for the divorced person, as well as their new found lack of responsibilities and the freedom to go and do as they please.

I don’t have the experience of being a divorced woman (although I’ve had friends and family divorce), but the following article that was recently published on Huffington Post is a must-read for anyone even remotely considering divorce: Wasbeens and Wives: 7 reasons to stay married. It’s funny and serious at the same time.

Don’t be tricked by the shiny new opportunities of someone with divorce papers still hot off the printer. Here’s what your friends probably won’t admit:

1. Going out with single friends is fun, but just for a short while. After that, they realize that true companionship has a lot more going for it than the singles scene does. Loneliness is not just about being alone; it’s about not having a mate to share the joys and sorrows of life and child rearing.

2. Being a single parent is harder than almost any other job. Helping kids through a divorce is even more difficult than negotiating with your ex. Children of divorce die an average of five years earlier than people who grew up in intact families. And, they have more academic, mental, emotional and health problems. The instability of divorce affects the foundation of their identity, and that instability is never completely repaired. Even if your kids are in college, a parental divorce can be very difficult for them.

3. When a divorced woman is ready to date again, she often finds herself dealing with many of the same issues with men as she did with her ex, plus some new ones. You don’t get rid of your relationship problems with divorce; you just trade them for new problems. (Read We all married the wrong person.)

4. Most divorcees are not living high on the hog with fat alimony checks. In fact, their standard of living generally declines if they weren’t the breadwinner. The fights about money after the divorce are usually much worse than the ones that occurred during the marriage. Now, there are just more people involved.

5. Down the road after the anger has dissipated, two-thirds of divorced people admit they and their spouse didn’t work hard enough to save the marriage. They face lifelong wounds and often regret the decision. In fact, they are often jealous of you, the married friend, the one with a husband waiting for you at home after you go out for drinks with your girlfriends.

The truth is when we have problems in our marriage, we are quick to blame our partner and quicker yet to rationalize why we are blameless. But if we make the decision to focus on pleasing our partner and meeting our own needs (instead of making our mate responsible for meeting all of them and “making us happy”, the relationship dynamic changes and improves.

In part 2, I will address how to keep your marriage interesting and lively so that you aren’t tempted to be jealous when a friend “breaks free” of their marriage.

I wrote this as a guest post for StacyKnows.

Part 2–How to keep your marriage exciting so you aren’t tempted to be jealous when a friend “breaks free” of their marriage.

Have you ever been jealous of a single friend’s life?

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