HAPPINESS IN DIVORCED WOMEN 1
TheLevel of Happiness and Well-being in Women, Before, During, and Aftera Divorce
TheLevel of Happiness and Well-being in Women, Before, During, and Aftera Divorce
Today, in America, approximately forty to fifty percent marriages endup to divorce (Amato, 2010). One of the reason divorce cases are highis because women are becoming more economically independent, moreeducated, and more acquainted with their rights. For this reason,marital breakdown cases are increasing each and every day, making ita common thing. Diener (1984) suggested that subjective-well being isinfluenced by marriage although it is not a selection indicator forhappiness in marriages. Along this research, Glen observed that (ascited in Diener, 1984, p. 556) remarried people’s happiness is notdependent on previous divorce.
Marriage satisfaction is indeed a powerful variable for subjectivewell being. Through an overview of literature of various studies andtheories, this research paper shows that women in unhappy marriagesexperience a decline in happiness and psychological well-being beforeand during a divorce but later, experience greater improvements inhappiness and well-being after the marriage dissolution. Optimisticand hopeful spouses are able to deal with effects of divorce in amore healthy way, thus increasing their happiness and subjective wellbeing.
MaritalHappiness and psychological well-being before a divorce
When most people are asked what they want in a marriage, most of themgive happiness as the top most description on their .list. Not onlyis happiness as a result of both external and internal factors, butalso it shapes people’s behaviors as well as their physiologicalstates. On that account, high subjective well being is both apleasurable outcome and a significant factor in the future success ofany relationship. Diener (1984) described three types of happinessincluding frequent positive feelings, high life satisfaction, as wellas infrequent negative feelings. Marital happiness is, therefore, anevaluation made by spouses that stipulate the feeling of well-being,positivity with less negativity, and life satisfaction they encounterin the marital relationship. There is a positive correlation betweenmarital happiness and psychological well-being. On the other hand,marital satisfaction is negatively related to divorce proneness. Awoman in a happy marriage is likely to have a high psychologicalwell-being, which can prevent dissolution of her marriage. Also, awoman in a marriage full of conflicts and instabilities is likely tolead an unhappy life, which can increase her chances of filing for adivorce. Various theories link marital happiness to psychologicalwell-being including the stress generation model and marital discordmodel of depression.
The stress generation model states that people with low psychologicalwell-being are likely to experience stressful relationships withtheir partners. These negative interactions can, in turn, lead to adecline in marital happiness. A woman in an unhappy marriage cansuffer from distress and create tension and arguments in hermarriage, which in turn can deteriorate her happiness and well-being(Amato, 2010). The marital discord model of depression drew itsconclusion from medical work on people who were experiencing troubledmarital relationships. This theory assumes that increased risk ofdepression is related to low-quality marriage. The reason behind thisassumption is that couples in an unhappy marriage are likely to denyeach other social support, which acts as a preventive measure againstthe development of depression. Moreover, the theory posits that themain characteristic of an unhappy marriage is a hostile and stressfulfamily environment, which increases the chances of an individualdeveloping a low level of well-being. From the studies and modelsdemonstrated above, it is evident that a woman in an unhappy marriageexperiences low levels of happiness and well-being before making adecision of splitting up with a marriage partner.
Maritalhappiness and psychological well-being during a divorce process
A woman in an unhappy marriage has two options, to either dissolvethe marriage or remain in the marriage. In case she chooses todivorce, the process of divorce is seldom easy. With it, tensions runhigh, and couples make poor decisions, and happiness is at its lowestlevel. At this time, prospective divorcee deals with emotional,legal, financial, and practical aspects of divorce. Both partnersexpect that by ending the marriage, their level of happiness andwell-being would increase. The theory of marital decline contendswith the couple`s expectations and suggests that a divorce hasnegative consequences despite individual tendencies towards itbecause all marriage benefits are lost the moment it ends. As analternative, the perspective of marital resilience suggests thatdivorce is sometimes positive because it gives the partners a secondchance to enjoy life, which the previous marriages failed to provide.
In contrast Scheier and Carver (1993) suggested that being optimisticabout life is very rewarding, and they related high subjectivewell-being to optimism. Although women may experience high levels ofstress during this period, having positive thoughts about theirfuture might help them overcome these feelings and achieve a happyending. According to the hope theory, goal directed thoughts are veryimportant when a person is facing life challenges like loss of apartner through death or divorce (Snyder, 2002). Loss of a spouseputs a woman at a risk of losing hope in life hence low levels ofhappiness.
Various factors may lead to a woman`s wish to divorce her partnerincluding abusive husbands. Women in the abusive marriages file fordivorce to keep a distance from their abusive husbands. A spouse`sextra-marital affair also causes his wife to end the marriage. Otherfactors that lead to a divorce are such as abandonment by thehusband, or the husband is suffering from a midlife crisis thatendangers his wife`s emotional and financial security.
A woman’s choice to end a marriage can turn out to be chaotic,traumatic, and might be filled with conflicting emotions to an extentof losing hope. If the woman is the receiver or an initiator, of thebreakup decision, there are particular dynamics, attitudes, andfeelings that she is likely to experience that would result in afeeling of unhappiness. Most of the time, it is uncommon for theperson whose divorce decision originates to experience doubt,resentment, guilt, distance, fear, impatience, as well as relief(Bourassa et al., 2015). Correspondingly, when an individual is onthe receiving end, he or she might develop the feelings of anger,hopelessness, victimization, and shock, loss of control, revenge,reconciliation wishes, low self-esteem, and insecurity. According toSnyder (2002), with all the societal expectations aboutrelationships, a couple is expected to pursue life goals togethertherefore, placing a single person in a state of decreased self worthand reduced goal oriented thinking.
Maritalhappiness and psychological well-being after a divorce
Women in less happy partnerships tend to be happier after ending therelationship in the long run. Alternatively, women who werepreviously in happy partnerships experience less happiness andwell-being after divorce unless they remarry (Amato, 2010). After adivorce, women are likely to be happier than their partners forvarious reasons. Women are naturally wired in a way that they seekemotional help from significant others. Reaching out for helpshortens their suffering and healing time. Also, when seeking comfortfor emotional trauma, women employ an internal inventory emotionalcoping strategy, which helps them to let go of the past and focus onthe future, which means that most of them possess a personality thatencourages positive and goal directed thoughts After a maritaldissolution, women are likely to look for new experiences and areless likely to engage in destructive behaviors like casual sex,alcohol and drugs, and new relationships to divert their attentionfrom divorce trauma (Bourassa et al., 2015).
Research thatwas conducted by Bourassa et al., (2015) showed that there is anegative association between marital quality and life satisfaction indivorced women, in a way that women in happy marriages demonstratedlowest life satisfaction after a divorce. However, the same researchsuggested that women who experience the lowest quality relationshipscan improve their life satisfaction after a divorce. Although womenare said to be happier after a marital dissolution, majority reportthat they experience some struggles like financial nightmares, worryabout their children, the horrifying aspect of dating again, singleparenthood, and home maintenance. Most divorced women would not wantto remember the memories they had with their spouses during thedivorce because they say it was the most traumatizing experience intheir lives, and it took hope and positive energy to overcome.
Most of the time, divorce is associated with negative outcomes.Although it is a stressful situation, for some people this might notbe the case especially for optimistic and hopeful women in previouslow quality and unhappy marriages. Divorce for such women might leadto decreased levels of subjective wellbeing and happiness in theshort run, but this situation will improve in the long run if theywere positive and goal oriented in life. On the other hand, happinessand well-being might decrease for women who had happy marriages, butwere pessimistic and negative in life.
Amato, P. R. (2010).Research on divorce: Continuing trends and new developments. Journalof Marriage and Family, 72(3), 650–666. http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?vid=3&sid=3f5eed50-5f4d-4744-8bbe- fa540a6cbed4%40sessionmgr4007&hid=4102&bdata=JnNpdGU
Bourassa, K. J.,Sbarra, D. A., & Whisman, M. A. (2015). Women in very low-qualitymarriages gain life satisfaction following divorce. Journalof Family Psychology, 29(3), 490-499. http://www.midus.wisc.edu/findings/pdfs/1471.pdf
Diener, E.(1984). Subjective Well-Being. Psychological Bulletin, 95(3),542-575.
Scheier, M. F., &Carver, C. S. (1993). On the Power of Positive Thinking: The Benefitsof Being Optimistic. Current Directions in Psychological Science,2(1), 26-30.
Snyder, C.R.(2002). Hope Theory: Rainbows in the Mind. Psychological Inquiry,13(4), 249- 275.