Most divorced couples expect to go through a tough adjustment period immediately after the marriage comes to an official end. It's important to be aware of the possible consequences of divorce, and to have a realistic view of the future. Only in movies does a rich, handsome, eligible man appear out of nowhere and give a divorced woman everything she has ever dreamed of and more. In real life, women normally suffer the most after a divorce, both in terms of quality of life and emotional well-being, says Michele Weiner Davis, creator of the Divorce Busting Centers.
A woman may suffer financially after divorce, particularly if she is the primary caregiver to the children. Without her husband's salary, she will have less money to cover bills and household expenses. The average divorced woman has less money than the average married woman and women don't completely recover from the financial consequences of divorce until they remarry, note Pamela J. Smock, Wendy D. Manning and Sanjiv Gupta, in "The Effect of Marriage and Divorce on Women's Economic Well-Being," a 1999 article published in the "American Sociological Review."
Divorce may leave a woman feeling hurt, lonely and unhappy. Even if it was her choice to end the marriage, she may bear the scars of the broken relationship for a long time. According to The Short-Term and Decade-Long Effects of Divorce on Women's Midlife Health, an article published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in 2006, divorced women reported significantly higher psychological distress levels than married women in the years following the divorce. The stresses of being in an unhappy marriage may simply be replaced by different worries, such as not being able to trust a man again, struggling to find her perfect partner or a fear of being rejected.
Despite the potential negative effects of divorce on a woman, there are many cases in which divorce leads to a happier, healthier life. If a woman is getting out of a marriage fraught with conflict or violence she will be happier in the long term, say Alan Hawkins, Tamara Fackrell and Brian Higginbotham, developers of the Utah Divorce Orientation program. A woman may still require professional help to get over the unhealthy relationship and subsequent breakdown of the marriage, particularly if she was the victim of domestic violence.
For a divorce to have more positive effects on a woman than negative, she must make the most of the chance to change her life for the better. Some women say that the first few years after divorce are a time of significant personal growth, with greater independence and more personal choices. It is crucial to work to create a better life, say Hawkins, Fackrell and Higginbotham. Every single decision a woman makes after divorce, from where to live to how to increase her income, is an important part of this process.