There are fewer things sadder than the breakup of a 20+ year marriage. Once a couple makes it to the 10-year mark, most people assume they are good to go, so one would think that divorce would be a much more devastating blow at an older age, right? In fact, that is incorrect. A recent study found that divorce actually hurts younger people who have been married for less time even more.
In fact, people between the ages of 35 and 41 reported more health problems following their divorce than those who got divorced in the 44 to 50 age range as compared to people the same age who stayed married. Crazy? Maybe not.
It makes a lot of sense. Those are the prime ages to have young children, so people who divorce at these ages are likely dealing with the hardest part of parenthood all alone. And then there are those who haven't had children yet.
If you expected to be with someone for your whole life and they're suddenly gone, it's a huge life adjustment. This is especially true if you had wanted kids or a house or any of those other life visions we make for ourselves. If those are suddenly gone, it IS incredibly stressful.
Still, it seems like young people in their late 20s and 30s who haven't yet had children (especially in their early 30s) actually have a gift. They can still make their life with someone and start "fresh" in a sense even though the initial blow might feel more panic inducing (wondering if they can still have kids, etc.).
Still, there is something that is devastating about getting divorced young, and it makes sense how the stress would affect a person's health. My friends who have gone through it say it felt like a failure or like a statement about who they are. It hurt their self-esteem and made them feel both angry and humiliated, neither of which is conducive to good health.
Even more, younger people have less context for pain. A person in their 50s might have lost close relatives or their parents. They have been through more in life and so they will have more context for their pain. In addition, they may have already been so fed up with their spouse, they might feel more relief than stress once the marriage finally ends.
Whatever the reason, the study is likely accurate, which shows that those of us in our 30s who have friends going through divorce should treat it like the stressful event that it is and be there for our friends. The fact is, no matter what age a person is, going through a divorce is a major life upset and one of the most stressful events most people will ever face. For many, it's tragic.
Why do you think people in their 30s suffer more after divorce?
Image via sweethaa/Flickr
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