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Divorce May Be Good For You

Divorce May Be Good For You

A respected study has claimed that divorce in middle or later life is no barrier to having a long and happy marriage and can even lead to a greater contentment in the long-term.

Prof George Vaillant, who has most recently overseen the Grant Study that has followed the lives of more than 240 men over 76 years, commented that he had been forced to rethink his earlier assumption that there was a link between being divorced and being temperamentally unsuitable for stability.

The results suggest that although marriage improves with age – especially after 70 – it also found that almost none of those who find themselves in an unsatisfactory marriage by middle age successfully manage to repair the relationship. Many of those who divorced went on to form happy new marriages lasting several decades, the Grant Study has concluded.

“One of the great lessons of the Grant Study is that people grow up,” declared Prof. Vaillant, recounting how one man in the survey had been a heavy drinker and lacked purpose but had turned his life around after meeting his new wife.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the UK has recently revealed a 25% rise in a single year in the number of people in their late 60s getting married – nearly all of them previously divorced. If you would like to discuss any aspect of divorce, please contact a divorce lawyer.

Men close to fathers make better husbands

The Grant Study also concluded that men who had a healthy relationship with their own father were more likely to make good spouses. On the other hand, those from broken families or who had endured troubled childhoods were no less likely to sustain a happy and successful marriage than those from more stable backgrounds.

The Study of Adult Development at Harvard Medical School – the official title of the “Grant Study” – is the longest-running research project of this nature ever undertaken. It began following an initial sample of 268 19-year-old Harvard students in 1938, asking them to take part in regular questionnaires about their relationships and family life.

Some of the men perished in the Second World War, but the researchers were able to track 242 others for the remaining decades of their lives. The last update was in 2011 when 92 men remained alive.

During the period only seven of them did not marry, while 173 of them married once. Of those 51 remained “happy” for about 50 years while 73 stayed in stable marriages judged, based on their responses, as “so-so” while 49 spent a lifetime in an “unhappy” marriage. A further 62 of the men got divorced – 39 of them either stayed single or remarried unhappily.

Happy endings

However, 23 of them embarked on new and successful marriages, enduring an average of 33 years. By contrast only one of those in an unhappy marriage by middle age reached 85 still married to the same woman but now happy.

The most common factor in the Grant Study divorces was alcoholism; 34 of the divorces (57%) had occurred when at least one spouse was abusing alcohol.

Previously, when Prof. Vaillant reviewed the findings in 1977, he came to the conclusion that divorce itself was a predictor of future instability.

He has now radically revised his opinions. Prof. Vaillant concluded: “What the Grant study teaches us about marriage, intimacy and mental health is not that divorce is bad, but that loving people for a long time is good. The most important finding, proves that the only thing that really matters in life are your relations to other people.”

We do everything in our power to make the separation and divorce process as painless as possible. Our divorce and family lawyers in the South Buckinghamshire area provide you with a full range of family law services in complete confidence.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of family law, are considering divorce proceedings, or a trial separation, or want to draw up a pre or post-nuptial agreement, call us in absolute confidence on 01494 790058 or 01494 790047. Alternatively, email us at familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk.