The Effects of Divorce on Women & Men

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Recovering from a divorce is a distinctive process not only for each individual, but also for each gender. Divorce can be an agonizing process for men and women because there can be so many casualties in divorce—children, relatives, friends and finances. Understanding the different effects divorce has on both parties helps them both heal and face the proceedings.


Coping with the emotional consequences of divorce can be traumatic and enduring. Family divorce psychologist, Renee A. Cohen, Ph.D., asserts that the grief and stress that men and women encounter in divorce is “second only to the distress suffered from the loss of a loved one through death.” Although men and women both experience similar emotions in the marital failure, women have a tendency to emotionally adjust better than men do. The late psychologist and mediation practitioner, Kathleen O’Connell Corcoran suggested that this difference occurs for various reasons. Women are twice as likely to initiate divorce because they are more likely to recognize problems in the marriage. In her article, "Psychological and Emotional Aspects of Divorce," Corcoran states that women who initiate divorce may feel a sense of relief when the marriage ends and they are more inclined to maintain superior levels of self-esteem and independence after divorce. Men often rely heavily on social support and help from others when their marriage fails. Nevertheless, regardless of which spouse initiates the divorce, men and women are likely to experience a mix of emotional reactions in the chaos ranging from grief, fear, anxiety, guilt and depression to anger and relief.


Experiencing financial difficulties can add to the existing hardships of the divorce. Not only is divorce expensive, but spouses must also maintain a lifestyle on one salary. If you were a stay-at-home parent, finding adequate employment to support your family is an additional burden. Corcoran states that financial burdens can magnify because of childcare and the cost of child support. According to George Mason University sociology and law professor and author Lenore Weitzman, women are more likely to face damaging financial consequences and a diminished standard of living than men. Her studies found that after a divorce, a woman experiences a 73 percent reduction in standard of living while a man’s standard of living is enhanced by 42 percent. However, these statistics are also dependent on number of children and stability of employment.


Adjusting to being newly single influences men and women differently. Experiencing the loss of a partner can make the adaptation process a lonely one. Men usually remarry more quickly and more often than women do. Corcoran explained that men face more of a loss in areas of intimacy, parental involvement and social interaction and seek to fill that void by replacing it with something familiar, such as a relationship. Corcoran suggested that single mothers in the workplace are more likely to be stigmatized than that of their male counterparts who, she said often draw empathy and assistance.