Happily Ever Over: Why a divorce could be the key to a better life
The breakdown of marriage might not be everyone’s dream of happily ever after, but new research shows going through a divorce helps people improve nearly all areas of their life from their health and fitness to job, career, and finances.
Researchers discovered the biggest improvement divorced people experience is having a greater appreciation and outlook on life with 65 percent of divorcees saying this had improved, compared to less than one in ten (9 percent) who said it got worse.
Half (50 percent) said they improved their relationships with family and friends following their divorce, while only 17 percent said their relationships had got worse. For 37 percent of people, their relationship with their children improved, compared to 8 percent who said they had got worse.
The research, which questioned 1001 divorced adults across the UK, commissioned by Maguire Family Law, found 44 percent of people improved their job and career after their divorce, while only 9 percent said it got worse. Over half (53 percent) said their money and the financial situation improved, however, 22 percent said they were worse off financially.
Two-fifths of respondents said their fitness improved, nearly half (45 percent) improved their style and appearance, and 38% said their sex lives got better.
Over half said their travel and holidays got an upgrade and 60% enjoyed spending more time on hobbies and other pastimes.
And with so many areas of their lives improving, it’s perhaps no surprise that over half (55 percent) said their mental health and wellbeing improved, compared to only 13 percent said it got worse. Going through a divorce event improved people’s religion and spirituality – 18 percent said this area of their life had got better – and for 14 percent, they found they felt more comfortable and happier with their gender identity.
But why does divorce act as such a catalyst for self-improvement? The research found that following the breakdown of their marriage, over half (55 percent) experienced ‘post-traumatic growth’. Post-traumatic growth is a positive psychological change experienced as a result of going through a period of adversity and other challenges – such as a divorce – to rise to a higher level of functioning.
The Divorce Coach, Sara Davison, commented: “Divorce is now widely accepted as the second most traumatic life experience, second only to the death of a loved one. Leaving a partner is never the easy option and, even in the most amicable situations, it has a huge ripple effect across every aspect of people’s lives. The good news is that the personal growth following divorce is enormous – it helps people’s outlook on life, shifts their mindset and puts them into action. From getting fit to taking the trip of a lifetime or starting their own business – this proves the age-old adage that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
The research from Maguire Family Law found that the average time for experiencing the benefits of post-traumatic growth was 14 months after the divorce.
James Maguire, the founder of Maguire Family Law, said: “We carried out the research because we wanted to find how we can support our clients going through a divorce. A third of respondents said a good lawyer can help guide them through the process in a way to help them go onto improve their lives. For those who didn’t experience post-traumatic growth, one of the reasons cited was that the divorce process was too stressful and messy. We know it can be really difficult, but if you and your ex can try to make the process as positive as possible when you’re going through the legalities of a break up, it not only helps during that period, but it can also set you up to go on and improve your life in all kinds of different ways.”
According to the respondents, these are the top 13 ways to remain positive during and after a divorce:
- Spend more time with friends and family (35%)
- New hobbies and interests or spent more time doing them (34%)
- Spend more time outdoors in nature (27%)
- Exercise (26%)
- Eat health foods (25%)
- Read more (24%)
- Listen to more music (23%)
- Do something creative (14%)
- Work more (12%)
- Drink less (11%)
- Stop smoking (11%)
- Work less (10%)
- Party more (6%)
The areas in which people’s lives improve the following divorce are:
- General appreciation and outlook on life (65%)
- Hobbies and pastimes (60%)
- Relationship with yourself (59%)
- Feelings about yourself (58%)
- Travel and holidays (56%)
- Mental wellbeing (55%)
- Ability to cope with stress and pressure in other areas of life (53%)
- Money and finance (53%)
- Relationships with friends and family (50%)
- Style and appearance (45%)
- Job and career (44%)
- Fitness (41%)
- Sex life (38%)
- Physical health (38%)
- Relationships with child/ren (37%)
- Weight (32%)
- Spirituality and religion (17%)
- Gender identity (14%)
Source: LexRex Communications