According to the data provided by the American Psychological Association, 40-50% of married couples in the U.S. divorce. Such disturbing statistics imposes a question: what makes marriage so unsuccessful and unstable that the only answer to the problem comes in the form of divorce? Actor Robin Williams found the right words to describe this phenomenon from a man’s point of view: “Divorce is like ripping a man’s genitals out through his wallet.” After some time spent in marriage, the couples seize to communicate openly, they get into frequent arguments, and they become more aware of each other’s flaws. They are not as intimate as they were during the beginnings of the marriage, and the differences in their systems of values become more obvious. When divorce is chosen as the solution to all these problems, the couple, their children, and their families are emotionally affected by it. When the most common causes of divorce are being targeted throughout the marriage, people learn to listen and appreciate each other’s opinions. They work on their intimacy and they preserve the feeling of connection for a much longer period of time.
Lack of communication between the partners is one of the most common direct causes of divorce. Men and women usually have a lot to say to each other when they first meet. It takes months and years for them to reveal the partner’s interests, dreams and characteristics layer by layer. When they know each other’s thoughts and emotions too well, the amusing themes for conversation evaporate, and they are left with daily small talks about the bills, work, and children. People in marriage commonly hold back the most important feelings and thoughts, making the communication gap even greater. When there is lack of constructive communication with the partner, the gap is filled with arguments. Both men and women feel the need to dominate their partners, which is why most of them tend to argue until things get out of control and the situation in the family becomes intolerable for all its members. Then, married people begin to accentuate all flaws of their partners, even though they were aware of them from the beginning of the relationship. Although affairs may be one of the most common direct causes of divorce, the subtle nuances that push one or both partners towards affairs are the actual reasons for the loss of the feeling of belonging. At this point, married people become less intimate and more distant. When the connection is disturbed, their value systems become polarized and it becomes obvious that the partners have colliding priorities.
The decision to end a marriage can lead to traumatic experiences for both partners. They are aware of the emotions that brought them together and they actualize the love they used to feel for one another. Nevertheless, these memories are not enough to surpass the current differences and lead the marriage back to harmony. It is not unusual for the party that has been abandoned to experience shock, depression, affected self-esteem, anger, and feeling of being betrayed. The initiator of the divorce, on the other hand, is left with the feelings of guilt and doubt, but also with relief and willingness to start a new stage in their life. The initial confusion after separation gradually goes away, leaving space for acceptance for both parties. The party that was left learns regains the sense of control and usually starts discovering new interests in life. Both the man and the woman start making plans for the future. Children, on the other hand, experience these changes much more drastically. The intense parental conflicts that led to the divorce have already left traces in their development, but the feeling of being abandoned leads to permanent emotional consequences. In general, girls are more internally symptomatic, so they may become depressed after the divorce. The parents notice changes in their sleeping and eating habits, as well as common headaches or stomach aches. Boys, on the other hand, express their anger and hurt by fighting with their parents and getting in trouble at school.
Most men, women and children are left to deal with the emphasized emotional effects after divorce because they have been neglecting the causes during the marriage. Couple counseling usually becomes an option when the gap is too great to surpass. The active listening model, as one of the most influential theories in marital therapy, should be implemented from the very beginnings of the relationship. According to this theory, active empathic listening during conflicts leads to stable and happy marriages. The gap in communication can be prevented when the partners learn how to listen to each other’s opinions and express their arguments without emotional aggression. Partners who argue frequently can still have a stable marriage if they work on their personal capacity to listen and understand.
The effects of divorce are detrimental for the ex partners and their children. When the direct causes of divorce become too obvious, the problems are usually too serious to surpass and the couple cannot stay harmonious for a longer period of time. Marriage is a difficult journey that demands sacrifices and understanding from the beginnings of the relationship. If the partners become aware of the situations that make them distant, they will be able to work on the problems before they lead them to the final stages of the marriage. If the couple makes all efforts to preserve the sense of connection, the shock of the separation will be absorbed by the realization that this new stage in their lives is necessary and they need to move forward. The feelings of guilt and disappointment are not drastic for couples that came down to the decision of divorce without leading the entire family into complete despair.
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