A Person’s Psychological Well-being is not affected by Divorce
Yixiao Song
Virginia Commonwealth University
A Person’s Psychological Well-being is not affected by Divorce
Divorce is the deliberate, lawful dissolution of marriage (Cooney & An, 2002).
According to a report in the Business Insider, divorce rate is high in the United States at 53%,
and in Europeans countries such as Spain, Luxembourg, Hungary, Portugal, and the Czech
Republic, with rates exceeding 60% (Engel, 2014). The highest divorce rate is in Belgium – an
overwhelming 70% and the lowest at 3% in Chile (Engel, 2014). The majority of research has
concentrated on illustrating the adverse and traumatic effects of divorce, more so on children
(Wallerstein, 1991). These studies link divorce to long-term psychological problems (Kalter,
1987). Research also suggests that divorce is related to psychological distress, social isolation,
economic hardship, and dangerous health repercussions, and therefore causes long-term adverse
effects on the physical health of the divorced couple (Lorenz et al., 2006). Indeed, there is a
general association between divorce and negative psychological well-being. However, results
from the majority of research are stereotyped, and the effects are not as significant as oftenalleged
(Kalmijn, 2005). This paper establishes the point of view that divorce does not negatively
affect an individual’s psychological well-being.
When talking about the negative effects of divorce on individuals – especially children,
a lot of research states that divorce does hurt children. Susan Gadoua (2009), in her book,
Contemplating Divorce suggests that it is not the actual divorce that harms children, but rather
the fighting between the parents that causes psychological harm. In contrast to the widely
believed notion that divorce negatively harms individuals and children, the fact is that divorce
also has a positive impact on them. Single parents tend to be more intimately involved with their
children – the separated spouse tends to pay more attention to the child’s desires and makes
efforts to spend quality time with them (Corcoran, 1997). A research conducted by Matthijs
Kalmijn and Christiaan W. S. Monden about whether the negative impact of divorce on a
person’s well-being is reliant on the marital quality, offers evidence, though limited, that divorce
from a poor marriage has a less adverse effects on an individual’s well-being (Kalmijn &
Monden, 2006). Thus, the quality of marriage itself is responsible for the individual’s negative or
positive psychological well-being. Divorce from an unsavory marriage may even affect
individuals positively as it offers escape from constant conflict, allowing self-reflection and selfhealing,
which result in a happier and healthier lifestyle (Gross, 2014).
In an article from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, aiming to discover
whether marriage positively impacts the psychological well-being of a person, empirical
evaluation and data used revealed that it is the quality of the marriage and not the marital status
that links marriage to positive psychological health (Gove, Hughes, & Style, 1983). This
observation supports the proposed fact that it is not divorce but a poor marriage that negatively
affects the individual’s psychological well-being (Williams, 2003). In the book, Separating
Together: How Divorce Transforms Families, the authors examine 100 divorcing families. The
book presents detailed case studies, clearly presented data, excerpts from interviews, and
scrutiny of mother-child interactions, and argues that the traditional perceptions of divorce are
too negative, personalized, and too universalizing in an experience that differs for men, women,
and children (Stewart et al., 1997). According to the book, divorce may even offer the possibility
of personal growth (Stewart et al., 1997).
In a study to infer the consequence of divorce on children and adults, Paul Amato
(2000), concludes that divorce does benefit some people; it causes some to experience a shortterm
decrement in psychological well-being, while others may face a long-term downward
trajectory. However, the study also suggests that effects of divorce are based on the individual’s
psychological predisposition and certain contingencies (Amato, 2000). The book Life-Span
Development and Behavior states that a divorce has a crisis period where the individual is
affected on a short-term basis, but many parents and children exhibit significant improvements
and adjustment following the period after the divorce process (Baltes, Featherman, & Lerner,

Amato, P. (2000). The consequences of divorce for adults and children: Journal of Marriage and
Family, 62(4), 1269-1287.
Baltes, P., Featherman, D., & Lerner, R. (2014). Life-span development and behavior (10th ed.,
pp. 111-113). New York and London: Psychology Press.
Cooney, Teresa M.; An, Jeong Shin. Divorce: trends and consequences. Encyclopedia of Aging.
2002. Retrieved June 17, 2016, from
Corcoran, K. (1997). Psychological and emotional aspects of divorce. Retrieved 17
June 2016, from http://Psychological and Emotional Aspects of Divorce
Engel, P. (2014). MAP: Divorce rates around the world. Business Insider. Retrieved 17 June
2016, from
Gadoua, S. (2009). Divorce doesn’t harm children – parents fighting harms child. Psychology
Today. Retrieved 17 June 2016, from

Gove, W., Hughes, M., & Style, C. (1983). Does marriage have positive effects on the
psychological well-being of the individual? Journal of Health and Social Behavior,
24(2), 122.
Gross, G. (2014). 4 Good things to come out of divorce. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 June
2016, from

Kalmijn, M. (2005). Differential effects of divorce on social integration. Journal of Social and
Personal Relationships, 22(4), 455-476.
Kalmijn, M. & Monden, C. (2006). Are the negative effects of divorce on well-being dependent
on marital quality? Journal of Marriage and Family, 68(5), 1197-1213.
Kalter, N. (1987). Long-term effects of divorce on children: A developmental vulnerability
model. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57(4), 587-600.
Lorenz, F., Wickrama, K., Conger, R., & Elder, G. (2006). The short-term and decade-long
effects of divorce on women’s midlife health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior,
47(2), 111-125.
Stewart, A., Copeland, A., Chester, N., Malley, J., & Barenbaum, N. (1997). Separating together:
how divorce transforms families. New York, NY, US: Guilford Press, 1997.
Wallerstein, J. (1991). The long-term effects of divorce on children: a review. Journal of the
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 30(3), 349-360.
Williams, K. (2003). Has the future of marriage arrived? A contemporary examination of gender,
marriage, and psychological well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 44(4),

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