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Divorce is among the most dreaded words in marriages.
While everyone gets married expecting to stick together, divorce might be inevitable for various reasons. And when it happens, divorce can cause devastating effects on couples.
Studies show that women bear many of the negatives of divorce compared to their male counterparts. Situations get even worse if children are in the mix.
As a woman struggling with the impacts of a divorce, you may find it hard to navigate life, especially if you were unprepared for a breakup.
The following are the emotional, psychological, physical, and financial impacts of divorce women may encounter.
Emotional and Psychological Effects
Statistics show that women initiate more divorce cases than men. But does that mean women walk out of a divorce with heads held high and live happily ever after?
The truth is, once the waves subside, the consequences of divorce on their emotional and psychological health can be detrimental. Below are various emotional and psychological effects of divorce on women:
Stress and Anxiety
Divorce means you’re jumping into the unknown, unsure how life will be without your partner. Whether you filed for divorce or not, the chances are you will be scared and stressed thinking about the future that awaits you.
For most women, realizing that a relationship they worked hard to sustain has come to a halt makes them sad and stressed. Stress might be profound if you were relying on your ex-husband financially.
This is the time to start thinking about where you’ll get money to feed your kid(s) and cater to all your bills.
Stress and anxiety become inevitable when you imagine losing your house, failing to feed your children, and people blaming you for leaving your spouse.
Read More: How Do You Mentally Prepare For A Divorce?
Guilt and Shame
Although divorce cases have become prevalent, with almost 50% of all marriages in the United States ending in separation, most divorced couples feel guilty and ashamed.
A divorced woman might suffer the most, mainly because society disapproves of divorce and often regards the woman as a failure.
Sustaining a marriage requires commitment from both parties. Most married women believe they have a more prominent role in keeping their marriage up and running.
While undergoing a divorce, a woman might feel there’s more she should have done to sustain her marriage. As a divorced woman, you might feel guilty for the following reasons:
- Something you did
- Something you didn’t do
- Something you think you did
- Failing to meet expectations.
When guilt overwhelms you, it results in shame and self-hatred.
Divorce can cause long-lasting agony to women, especially if they fully commit to their marriages. Women might feel betrayed, and after the divorce settlement, the pain can lead them to grieve for a long time.
While grief is a part of the process, devoting too much of your time to it can result in depression.
Women experiencing divorce depression might result in sadness, worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-loathe. Symptoms of divorce depression in women include:
- Loss of appetite
- Crying spells
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Avoiding family and friends
- Ignoring responsibilities
- Poor performance at work
Besides the negative impacts of divorce, some women feel a sense of relief after coming out of abusive marriages. Some women prefer to file for divorce instead of clinging to emotionally draining marriages.
Below are the reasons divorce is better for a woman than struggling to sustain a marriage:
- Your spouse has abandoned you.
- Your spouse is suffering midlife crises and endangers your physical, emotional, and psychological security.
- Your spouse is abusive and shows no signs of changing.
- Your spouse is in an extra-marital affair and leaves out of his marital home.
Divorcing an abusive, unfaithful, irresponsible spouse might be a great way to feel relieved and seek self-identity. If you’re financially stable, you can choose what to do with your life without anyone putting restrictions on you.
Divorce can cause devastating physical effects on women. Failure to care for your emotional and psychological health might also affect your physical health. Some of the physical effects include:
According to WebMD, divorced men and women are 20% more likely to suffer from heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic diseases. When it comes to women, divorce is likely to cause long-term health issues compared to men.
When divorced, women might neglect their emotional health and spend a long time in grief. Deteriorating mental health might lead them to avoid exercising, eating healthy, or seeing the doctor when sick.
One of the leading health issues affecting divorced women is heart disease. This condition might result from higher levels of inflammation caused by stress.
Stomach aches are also more common in stressed women still grappling with the negatives of breakups. Acute stress may cause digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, and indigestion.
Dramatic Weight Gain or Loss
Stress and anxiety cause some divorced women to turn to food while others may avoid eating altogether.
Those who eat more do so, intending to find a way to suppress their sorrows. Women might neglect physical exercise during the grieving period. When the behavior lasts for a long time, the results are drastic weight gain.
On the other hand, some divorced women might find no purpose in life and avoid eating altogether. Failing to eat will gradually deny the body of essential nutrients. As a result, the body becomes weak, leading to dramatic weight loss.
Either way, weight gain or loss can lead to increased anxiety, self-loathe, and depression.
Weakened Immune System
Women who take a long time to grieve the loss of their spouse and marriage life are likely to suffer from mental health issues. Prolonged stress and depression after divorce can suppress your immune system, leaving your body weak and vulnerable.
When depressed, some women may avoid eating, exercising, or taking medications. Failure to do that can leave their bodies weak and vulnerable to frequent infections, flu, and colds.
When grappling with the negative emotions resulting from the divorce, you may be surprised to see your immune system taking a sudden nosedive.
Divorce has negative financial consequences for women, especially stay-at-home moms. One study claims that women’s living standards drop by 45% after divorce, a considerable decline compared to 21% of men. So, how does divorce financially affect women?
Loss of Health Insurance
If your spouse was paying your health insurance, divorcing means your ex-spouse won’t continue paying for your health insurance coverage. This might shock unemployed women, who are unsure where to get funds if they face medical expenses.
Things can get worse if your children lose insurance coverage due to divorce. It might become the full responsibility of women to cater financially to children who need orthodontic care or have chronic illnesses.
Surviving on a Single Stream of Income
A stable marriage helps couples to build and maintain wealth. If the husband and wife are working, it’s easier to pool their money together to invest and cover their bills.
Divorce means both parties must rely on a single income stream. In most cases, divorced women suffer the most, particularly if they are primary caregivers to the children.
The truth is, women in some sectors earn less than men, even if they are in the same line of work. After divorce, a woman might have to manage her small salary to cover bills and household expenses.
Such women end up financially distressed and might work extra hours and neglect taking good care of their children.
Forced Return to Work
When push comes to shove, some women may be forced to return to work to raise funds.
Married women sometimes give up their successful careers to look after their children, hoping to return to work once the young ones are ready to leave the nest. When divorce comes in between, they have no source of income and have to start looking for a job.
Returning to the workplace after a long gap has emotional and physical consequences. There’s the fear and anxiety of meeting new people, working under a boss, and not having relevant skills.
Sometimes, you may need a retraining program to update your skills. And when you’re doing all that, you have kids at home that need your care and attention. The process can be emotionally draining, and you might take a long time before adapting to work and home responsibilities.
Ex-Spouse Failing Child Support
According to the US Census Bureau, over 30% of child support payments go unpaid, and less than 50% receive full payment.
In most cases, divorced women live with kids, and their ex-spouses are liable to pay child maintenance. If your ex-spouse fails to pay for child support, you may become financially distressed trying to raise money to maintain your kid(s).
However, you have the right to take legal action and request the court enforce child support payment. Failing to pay child maintenance is considered a state and federal crime and can come with penalties such as fines, license restrictions, or jail terms.
Women going through a divorce are likely to encounter more negative effects than men. While most women initiate divorces, the pain of losing a marriage they worked hard to sustain can cause long-term devastating effects.
As a divorced woman, you may have to deal with various emotional, psychological, physical, and financial impacts at some point. The best way out of your agony is to talk with a mental health professional to help you learn to manage your emotions.
Lauren Cook-McKay is the Vice President of Marketing at DivorceAnswers.com. She holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Diego and applies her training in private practice to helping couples struggling in their marriage. She believes there is hope in all marriages and strives to provide therapy to couples that will lead them back towards a loving marriage, or an amicable divorce that brings peace and closure.