A divorce can impact spouses and children negatively and devastate them mentally. Given that mental health conditions are on the rise, we all should educate ourselves about:
A. Psychological effects of divorce on women
B. Psychological effects of divorce on men
C. Psychological effects of divorce on children
Divorce causes grief, disrupts life, and impacts the spouses and their children. It forces all of them to make tough choices in their endeavor to secure their future. However, the negative impact of divorce may vary in some aspects depending on whether you are a man, woman, or child. Here is a primer that should help.
A. Psychological Effects Of Divorce On Women
A woman can play as many as four roles in a marriage – wife, mother, homemaker, and worker (if she is employed). Usually, women are focused on all four roles and most women manage to juggle their responsibilities effectively to keep everyone happy – husband, children, and employer. Divorce hits most women very hard, more so if they were homemakers and not working outside the home – it makes them lose the identity they had built up over the years and create a new self-identity. Divorce can impact their emotional state negatively in the following ways:
- After divorce, the first 2–3 years can be full of anxiety, sadness, and conflict because women have to deal with loss (family, income, self-esteem, etc.) and change (child custody, lower standard of living, stigma, etc.) at the same time.
- Women may also feel stressed out and poorer because post-divorce, the family income is cut in half, and the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage drops. For women who never worked to earn money outside the home, it becomes all the more difficult to manage life post-divorce as they may have to start working in order to run their new home.
- They may feel uncertain about the future because now they must start from scratch and rebuild their lives. However, all women are not made the same. Some women can take and absorb the shocks that life hands out, while for others, coping with the new normal may not be easy. Uncertainty can lead to mood swings, inadequate sleep, stress, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and other disorders.
- Coping with a work overload (job, children, home) without the support of a spouse, and with half of the income to spend, can also make women nervous, jittery, and doubtful of their capabilities.
- Some women may get overcome by a feeling of grief and devastation caused by the divorce. They may wallow in their grief, and eventually experience depression.
- Women can also feel fearful and paranoid, especially if they were homemakers during the marriage, or if they do not have the required skills to get a job.
- They may feel overwhelmed by guilt whether or not they initiated the divorce. Regularly experiencing feelings of shame and guilt can lead to anxiety and depression.
- Finally, there is anger. Women who are wronged by their husbands can experience uncontrolled anger, which can lead to headaches, hypertension, aggression, and other psychological problems.
Some women may respond to negative situations by reacting negatively, thereby accelerating the harmful psychological and emotional effects of divorce.
B. Psychological Effects Of Divorce On Men
Men may not express their feelings and their social life may appear “regular” after divorce, but the fact is that many men may be as much emotionally impacted by divorce as women. For example:
- Men may experience an emotional shock if their spouse files for divorce. They may feel inadequate.
- Non-custodial fathers can experience the loss of wife, children, and home. They may have to move into a new home, reorganize their lives, maybe pay alimony and child support, work, and generally come back home to an empty nest. Plus, they now have to see their children according to the visitation schedule. These factors can depress them or stress them out.
- As divorce cuts the family income in half, men too, like women, can find their lives economically disrupted. In addition, they may be required to pay alimony, child support, and buy or lease a new home – all of which can make them feel poorer and depressed.
- Then there are feelings of guilt and loneliness to contend with. Some men can withdraw into a shell and wallow in their depression. Loneliness can also lower self-esteem and cause sleep disorders.
- Other negative emotional effects of divorce in men include a feeling of rejection, anguish, hopelessness, or anger (depending upon the circumstances of the case), feeling abandoned, uncertainty at the prospect of starting life all alone and all over again, a feeling of loss (home, income, family), and more.
B. Psychological Effects Of Divorce On Children
Even though children may be aware that something was not right between their parents, they may still feel hugely upset when the family splits.
- Children may wish their parents get back together, and when the parents don’t, the children may feel helpless and experience dejection, which can lead to depression.
- Typically, a child’s reaction to divorce can depend on his level of maturity, age, and gender. A sensitive child or a child at a tender age may experience a profound shock, while older and mature children may be able to absorb the shock over a period of time.
- Children who are negatively impacted by divorce can experience development problems, study-related issues, cognitive decline, anger, despondency, etc., depending on the child’s mental makeup and upbringing. They may grow up to become poorly educated, depressed, unproductive, and/or hostile and angry adults.
- Children may feel they are being abandoned by both parents even though the child custody is shared.
- Children’s loyalties may get divided between the parents, and picking favorites can confuse their tender minds and perhaps make them hostile towards one parent.
- In extreme cases, the children may become disengaged from both parents.
- Children need an emotional outlet more than adults. If they process the divorce-related issues internally, it can torture their delicate minds and cause destructive behavior, poor development, or very poor coping skills.
- Children may also lose faith in the institution of family and marriage, and may hurtle from one failed relationship to another when they grow up.