A New And Optimistic Way To Think About Divorce
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D.
Approximately half of all marriages in America end in divorce.
This statistic has been reported frequently by the media for perhaps
This rate of divorce causes many people to believe that marriage is an unstable
institution and that relationships are difficult to maintain. In addition, many
people who are going through a divorce erroneously feel that they
have failed or are failures because their marriage has ended.
There is no question that a divorce is a painful experience for the husband,
the wife and the children.
However, it is important to consider whether people are in fact, happier one
year after their divorce is finalized as compared to how they were feeling while they
were in the midst of an unhappy and unfulfilling relationship.
I have counseled hundreds of couples for more than twenty-four years.
And when I ask people who are going through a divorce how they will feel
three months after the divorce is complete, they invariably say that they
will be getting back on their feet. When I ask them how they will feel a
year after their divorce, many of them genuinely believe that they will be well
on their way to being fine. They talk about dating, moving, finding a new job
and about getting on with their lives. They typically smile and communicate a
a sense of joy, hope and peace.
Many years ago, I treated an elderly couple who had been married for
more than fifty years. When I asked them when their problems began, they
both agreed that they had been unhappy from the beginning of their marriage.
For me, this was a very sad thing to hear. Imagine disliking your spouse for
half a century. In addition, while the elderly couple reported that part of the
reason they had stayed together was “for the children,” they realized that their
grown kids had experienced much pain, because their marriage was filled with
so much anger, hostility and resentment.
Now, I am not suggesting that couples that are experiencing conflict
should immediately file for a divorce. I am simply reminding people that it is
not their marital status which determines real happiness.
Perhaps the media ought to spend more time reporting on what might
be thought of as a “happiness index” as opposed to how many people are
married or divorced. This index should evaluate people who have ended
an unfulfilling relationship in terms of how they are feeling post-divorce as compared
with how they were feeling while they were married.
It seems to me that happiness, peace and contentment are the universal
goal that we are all searching for in our lives. I believe it is better to be happy and single than to remain trapped and stuck in an
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist and Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor.
Granat has written six books and developed 12 self-help programs. He has been featured in
many major media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and
Good Morning America.