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 and in all e-book formats at

Photo by imagerymajestic courtesy of

6 responses to “Researchers: Divorced friends may have good marriage advice

  1. Hi Lori,

    Thanks for this, it’s interesting to think about. I guess a lot of people who are married don’t want to share the negative aspects in an open way.
    Maybe you’d be curious to know that my first memoir is about eloping, and opens with a fight scene. It’s called The Elopement, and it’s at

    Have you read ‘And Baby Makes Three?’ I think it’s really helpful for couples, even if they’re not expecting.


  2. Hi Lori,
    I really appreciate your column. It’s great to get the emails. This one however has one confusing line. I’ve tried to read it different ways but each time it still doesn’t make full sense to me. It may of course just be me!?
    “Men needed this non-sexual support more than men, because they don’t often hear positive feedback from others in their lives as women do.”
    At first I thought it shoud read “WoMen needed this non-sexual support more than men, because they don’t often hear positive feedback from others in their lives as women do.” but then the final “women” at the end of the sentence doesn’t make sense to me?

  3. Sorry if I confused you. Women tend to hear more compliments from their female friends, i.e. nice dress, you look great since you started working out, love your hair cut, etc. Men don’t give each other those compliments and it’s often not appropriate for women to compliment other people’s husbands in that way (nice jeans, you’re looking buff, etc.). So that means we wives need to give husbands positive comments and support including complimenting their physical appearance.

  4. Great post! I think now I know what to do.

  5. Lori, makes sense now. Thanks for the clarification. Guess it was my male brain reading it 🙂

  6. Very nice post. Who knows divorcees can be the best marriage counselors. Thanks for posting this. Hope to read more posts from you.

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