No one enjoys going through a divorce, but some married Americans determine that their marriage simply must come to a legal end. Each year, some 827,000 divorces take place across the U.S., though experienced lawyers can make this process easier and faster in many cases. Often, divorce may involve lawyers and a court case, but other divorces are relatively simple, and only require the aid of mediators rather than lawyers. But in any case, Americans today are divorcing at a roughly 40% rate, and it is important for any adult today to know the signs of a possible divorce and know what to do next. Some married Americans will take steps to prevent a divorce, while others will simply get themselves ready for what comes next. On average, if a first marriage ends in divorce, then the relationship lasted for eight years, and second and third marriages are even more likely to end this way. In the U.S., fully 73% of third marriages end in divorce. A divorce might even last a full year if the spouses cannot easily agree on the terms. So, what might come next?
Divorce/Millennial Divorce Statistics
How often do divorces take place? Some basic statistics have been mentioned above, and there is more. Interestingly, in the U.S., February has the most divorce filings of any month, that being the month of St. Valentine’s Day. On average, a divorcing man is 30.5 years old, and divorcing women are 29 years old. General trends in the U.S. show that Americans are getting married later in life, to make room for the “extended adolescence” stage of life that many Millennials experience (often voluntarily). The average age of new brides and grooms is thus higher than in previous decades, and the average divorce rate may be impacted, too. It may be quite rare to see Americans in their early 20s getting divorced since they are probably not married yet. By contrast, take note that if the two spouses marry older, highly educated, and make good money, they may be less likely to divorce, according to statistics. Now, one may wonder: why are all these divorces taking place? Many reasons have been determined.
Reasons for Divorce
Some common reasons for divorce are universal, and others are more common to Millennials. Infidelity is the most common reason of all, which is when one spouse is unfaithful to the other and is caught somehow. The emotional trauma can be quite serious, and if marriage counseling cannot fix the problem, then divorce may be next. Meanwhile, drug or alcohol abuse can easily lead to divorce, since substance abuse will put a serious financial strain on the household and the abuser might lose their job. Drug and alcohol abuse often leads to physically violent behavior as well, or a life of crime to support that drug habit. Some divorces end for less dramatic reasons, such as a simple loss of interest, or if the two spouses realize that they have very different lifestyles and spending habits. This is a perfectly valid reason to want a divorce if both partners have thought it out carefully. Interpersonal issues, such as nonstop arguing and resentment and even a lack of trust (justified or not) can also lead to a divorce.
Millennials are young adults born between 1982 and 1995, and as of this writing, they are in their mid-20s through the late 30s. Many divorcing Millennials are struggling with money due to student loan debt or high living costs, and the divorcing spouses cannot agree on a solution. Other divorcing Millennials simply rushed into marriage since their parents or grandparents did while being unprepared for the full extent of married life. Or, they rushed into a marriage due to religious reasons while being unprepared for it all. Studies suggest that meeting a spouse through online dating may lead to a shallow relationship that isn’t a good foundation for marriage, and the spouses may soon get tired of each other or long for other romantic pursuits. Finally, many Millennials report that marriage simply feels restrictive and stifling. Speaking generally, Millennials have progressive views on relationships and love, and they also have highly mobile lifestyles that are based more on experiences than “putting down roots.” In short, they have a wanderer lifestyle, and marriage feels like a cage to them.
Tips for Preventing Divorce
With all that said, even dire warning signs of divorce are not a guarantee that filing for divorce is the only option to take. True, some cases really will end in divorce, but the two spouses may agree that they should take steps to prevent that, and attempt to fix their marriage. What can they do? While it may sound simplistic, resolving a divorce is an option that can provide a mental boost. One or both spouses may announce “we will NOT get a divorce no matter what,” and that alone can motivate them and reduce despair or a feeling of hopelessness. Next, those spouses may remind themselves of what they love about their spouse and what attracted them to begin with. They can each make an appreciation journal for the other, and seeing someone’s many attractive traits laid out in a concrete list can put a new perspective on everything.
Honest, meaningful communication is always important, and doubly so if divorce is looming. Today’s world is a distracted and impersonal one, from social media to TV streaming service and texting, and this can make a relationship too distant. So, the spouses must speak face to face often and speak honestly and constructively, and air any and all grievances they have so they can figure out solutions. Going on dates and outings can also help reinforce the relationship, like a second phase of the dating life. But balance is essential; too much exposure may be tiring and give the spouses more chances to find problems in each other. But doing this too little will ruin the point.
After Divorce Tips
Suppose the above tips (among others) did not work, and a divorce has been concluded. What is a divorced spouse to do? For one thing, they can and probably will mourn the marriage in a healthy manner. Bottling up those feelings is harmful, but wallowing in them endlessly is also a bad idea. Simply making limited room to properly mourn the ended marriage, and coming to terms with the divorce, is the best way to process all that and move on. For another thing, a divorced spouse should not avoid therapy due to shame or pride. Therapists are trained to help patients of all types, and they do not judge.
On a relatively positive note, this singlehood is a fine chance for the divorced spouse to resume the lifestyle that they had to suspend during their marriage. Upon marrying, both spouses may give up certain hobbies, spending habits, or future plans for the marriage’s sake, and such sacrifices are common. Once a marriage is over, each divorced spouse can resume those plans and hobbies, and use them as a form of self-therapy. This may range from traveling the world (approximately 46% of Americans have a passport) to planning to move far away from joining a sports team or even starting or simply working out more. Engaging in just 10 minutes of physical activity every day can help you improve mobility and live a much longer and happier life. None of this should conflict with other responsibilities, though, such as a job or raising a child (if the divorced spouse has custody). Finally, that divorced person should remember that being divorced or living alone does not carry nearly as much of a stigma as it did in previous decades, and they do not have to hide in shame. They can even resume dating or form other relationships when they are ready, and their new partner may be quite accepting of all this. Some divorcees might undergo beauty treatment for self-esteem, anything from a new hairstyle to Botox. Botox results last three to six months, and additional treatment sessions will probably follow. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says that on average, otoplasty will cost $3,154. A divorcee, if they can afford this, may consider it an attractive option.
Every person and every marriage is different, and every divorce is different, too. Currently, marriage is often seen more as a lifestyle choice than an ironclad obligation, and a young adult is urged to marry when they feel ready and are prepared, not out of rushed obligation. That, and choosing a good partner and having a respectable lifestyle and income, can make a marriage unlikely to end in divorce. But even if divorce does happen, a divorced adult can and should continue to respect themselves and realize that their marriage was not their entire life. They still have good things to offer to the world and to other people, and should build toward the future rather than burden themselves with what is already said and done.
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