Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C.
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The Effects of Divorce on Men and Women

Divorce affects every aspect of a person's life: economic, physical, emotional, and social. Men and women experience these changes differently, however. If you are divorcing, it's best to know what to expect so you can develop a strategy that will help you through the process with the least harm to your health and well-being.

Economic

It's probably no surprise that women tend to fare worse economically after a divorce than men do. Since often women are awarded custody of the children, they make career decisions centered around the care of the children. Women often do not pursue career advancement and may even choose lower-paying jobs with more flexibility so they will be more available for the children. They also have many expenses associated with child-rearing, and although settlements are supposed to consider these factors, they rarely compensate sufficiently, nor do they consider the mother's decreased earnings potential. Divorce is a major factor in the slip into poverty for many women and children.

Conversely, the husband's economic position usually improves upon divorce, because he has fewer financial responsibilities and does not have to make career decisions based on child-rearing limitations. However, studies show that this is the only way in which men fare better than women in divorce. In all other areas, women fare better.

Physical

Divorced men have a higher mortality rate than married men or divorced women, and have a greater decline in health than both. Since wives often encourage their husbands to engage in healthy choices of food and activity, divorced men, now without wives to encourage them and with the increased stress of divorce, may fall into bad eating patterns, gain weight, turn to alcohol and drugs, and have increased incidence of heart attacks and stroke.

Emotional

Wives tend to make close relationships outside their home, while husbands usually just socialize with their wives. For this reason, when divorce happens, the wife has friends and family to turn to, while the husband often feels very isolated.

Women are also more likely to seek emotional or psychological support from friends or professional counselors to help them through the grief or anger of divorce. Men, however, are more likely to skip the grieving process and internalize their pain. Men, in general, are less likely to discuss their feelings, and when they do, they usually just talk to their wives. Divorced men no longer have that support. To cope, they may turn to alcohol or drugs.

Divorced men report a lower sense of well-being after divorce and are more likely to have thoughts of suicide than divorced women are.

Social

Because men are lonely and skip the grieving process, they jump into new relationships faster than women do. Women take the time to understand their feelings and often evaluate what went wrong. They don't rush into new relationships and they make better choices than men do, which often results in staying single. Men remarry more often, but second marriages have an even higher divorce rate than first marriages.

Divorced mothers feel more fulfilled in their motherhood than divorced fathers feel in their fatherhood. Since fathers usually do not get full custody, they miss their children. They miss the sporting events, the school events, even helping with homework. And since they are not as adept at communication as women are, they're less likely to pick up the phone, talk to the kids, and ask them how their day was. This causes even more drifting apart, which further damages the man's emotional and physical health.

Limiting the negative effects

If you cannot reconcile your differences and are on the path to divorce, consider closely the possible effects of the divorce on your life, your spouse's life, and the lives of your children. Try to create a plan together to avoid as much pain as possible. Talk to your divorce attorney. We deal with these situations frequently and may be able to help handle the procedure and settlement in a way that will avoid many of these negative consequences for you and your family.

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