Is the social stigma that still surrounds divorce powerful enough to prevent some people from ending their marriage? Is that same stigma outdated? The response to both questions, as the Magic 8-Ball response states, is “it is decidedly so.”
Anecdotal evidence that suggests a stigma remains around divorce does not sync with the widely quoted statistic that nearly half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. One might expect that a divorce rate as high as 50% would result in broader acceptance that ending a marriage can be a healthy decision for all parties involved. Yet a common reply when someone informs another person that they are divorced is still, “I’m sorry.”
“I don’t feel it’s always something to be sorry for,” writer Heather Garcia states in an article for DivorceMagazine.com. “Divorce, to me, says ‘We have grown as individuals and the way I grew did not align with the way he grew.’ And that’s OK.”
The upside of divorce
The stigma around divorce is often more powerful when children are involved. A traditional nuclear family is a solid social structure, to be sure. But divorce can help fix a family situation that wasn’t working, Garcia says.
It’s not uncommon for parents to become better at that crucial role once they are divorced. Many children find their parents are happier, and the child no longer must be in a situation that may have pressured him or her to pick the side of one parent when heated arguments occurred. What’s more, an older sibling may develop empathy and caring skills as they support a younger brother or sister who may be struggling with a divorce.
Perhaps the most important benefit of divorce that is often not mentioned is the fact it provides a second chance at a big part of life.
Divorce laws can make life better
Studies both in the U.S. and abroad show that divorce laws can play a positive role in a person’s life. Women’s leisure time increases (a result of co-parenting) and they have been shown to invest more in their children’s schooling.
Female suicides decrease between 8% and 16%, and domestic violence decreases by about 30%, according to research published by the Quarterly Journal of Economics.
Some divorce laws can improve one’s quality of life even when there is no divorce. Laws that ensure generous financial compensation upon divorce have been shown to increase first births among highly educated women, as they understand they can be compensated for lost wages if they leave the labor market to care for a child and later divorce.
Of course, enlisting representation from a knowledgeable family law attorney is important to help make these concepts of the upside of divorce a reality.