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Consequences of Divorce for Women

by Amy Guertin

Divorce is difficult for everyone involved -- wives, husbands, children, in-laws -- but women face a number of consequences after divorce that relate only to them. Men are sometimes the primary breadwinners, which results in financial problems post-divorce for their ex-wives. Although many of the consequences of divorce are stressful, benefits to divorce exist.

Financial Difficulties

A woman's standard of living often decreases after divorce; in fact, as marriage and family therapist Michele Weiner-Davis wrote in 2009 in, "Look Before You Leap: Divorce Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be," in "Psychology Today," the largest consequence of divorce for women is the change in financial status. This change may mean moving into a smaller home, less spending money for non-essentials and a lack of an emergency fund. You may find yourself living paycheck-to-paycheck. When emergencies happen, e.g., car repairs or medical bills, you may have to choose between paying bills late or covering the emergency.

Health Changes

Divorce takes a major toll on women’s emotional and physical health. According to psychiatrists and researchers Trivedi, Sareen and Dhyani, writing for "Psychological Aspects of Widowhood and Divorce," which appeared in "Mens Sana Monographs" in 2009, divorced women have higher levels of anxiety, depression, anger and loneliness, lasting for years after the divorce. Along with emotional distress, divorced women are also at a higher risk of physical problems, sociologists Levelle and Smock write in the "Journal of Health and Social Behavior in "Divorce and Women’s Risk of Health Insurance Loss" in 2012. And since divorce frequently results in the loss of health insurance, you may have to choose between seeing a doctor or paying bills.

Task Overload

When a woman gets divorced, she loses the help that she had from another adult, say Trivedi, Sareen and Dhyani. If you have custody of your children, you will most likely experience task overload when keeping up with a full-time job, taking care of your children and caring for the house. You will likely have to take time off work when your child is sick and arrange for childcare when your children aren’t in school. Additionally, you will be responsible for getting your children to their activities. The loss of help from another adult in the house can be overwhelming.

Employment

Although full-time work can be stressful, some benefits exist for women who return to work and for those already working at the time of divorce. Research demonstrates that work often improves overall psychological well-being, write Trivedi, Sareen, and Dhyani. Employment can increase your self-confidence, pride and your social network, all of which may have decreased upon your divorce. When you lose your role as a wife, work can provide a sense of identity, helping you redefine yourself. Gaining control through supporting yourself and your children can significantly improve your self-esteem.

About the Author

Amy Guertin has a master's degree in counseling psychology and will earn her Ph.D. in 2014. Guertin is a licensed counselor and has 15 years of experience practicing psychotherapy, primarily working with children, adolescents and their families. She is also a college psychology professor and is the happiest when she is in the classroom.

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