Stress & family divorce results and statistics

Written by samantha kemp
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Stress & family divorce results and statistics
Learn how stress from divorce affects your family. (couple fight image by Allen Penton from

Divorce can lead to a large degree of stress in your life. According to Iowa State University Extension family life specialist, Lesia Oesterreich, the reasons for stress are numerous. These reasons include the need to restructure your family life; concern about finances; the loss of a spouse, sexual relationship and security; the need to create a new identity and parenting difficulties. Learn how stress can lead to divorce, how it develops and what you can do to manage it.

A Main Cause For Divorce

In the study entitled "Love, Marriage and Divorce: Newlywed's Stress Hormones Foreshadow Relationship Changes" published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 2003, Ohio State University Researchers discovered that levels of stress before, during and after fights could predict later divorce. The study was based on ninety newlywed couples who were asked to discuss a topic of conflict. Researchers checked their blood for stress hormones throughout the day. Ten years later, the couples who divorced had 34 per cent more stress hormones during their experimental fight.

Health Effects

Divorce and its associated stress can lead to several negative health consequences. According to sociologist Linda Waite in her article "Does Marriage Matter?" published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, divorced people have 20 per cent more chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer than married people. Additionally, they have 23 per cent more mobility limitations and a shorter life expectancy rate.

Heart Disease

Dr. Mark Hayward from the University of Texas at Austin has shown in his studies that divorced middle-aged women were 60 per cent more likely to acquire heart disease than middle-aged married women who had never been divorced. Dr. Hayward attributes the increased rate of heart disease to the long term stress of divorce before, during and after the divorce.

Parenting Effects

In the study, "Marriage, Divorce, and Children's Adjustment" by Robert Emery for Sage Publications in 1998, the author explores the role of stress on a divorced parent's disciplinary methods. Emery claims that as many as 40 per cent of divorced parents are so stressed about the divorce that their child rearing changes from having rigid rules to being permissive and emotionally dependent on their children.

Effects On Children

The effects of stress post-divorce are rampant in children. According to numerous studies performed over the past 40 years, children of divorce are more likely to be afflicted with depression or anxiety well into their 30s than peers whose parents are still married. This stress may also help account for the numerous negative statistics of children of divorce, such as those showing they are more likely to have a juvenile criminal record, more likely to engage in premarital sex, more likely to become teen parents, are 250 per cent more likely to develop conduct disorders, three to four times more likely to develop psychiatric problems and are more likely to commit suicide.


If you have not yet divorced, try everything possible to keep your marriage intact. Attend counselling sessions, try to communicate better and make sure that you and your partner agree about finances, a common topic of contention and eventual cause of divorce. In "Divorce Matters: Coping With Stress and Change," Linda Waite suggests taking charge of your life by having greater control over your time, scheduling routine time alone with your children, talking through your stress, understanding each person's role in the divorce and establishing goals for the future.

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