The Surprising Age When Divorce Hurts Most

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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the4m... the4mutts

I agree with all the reasons stated. I was divorced at 24. 24!! I FELT HORRID! I blamed myself for not learning faster how to be a good wife. I blamed it on my baby fat from 3 children. I shoulda/woulda/coulda.

At 28 I still don't trust myself to choose a mate because if my best friend of 14 years wasn't a good one, anyone else would be worse...

I worry all the time.

But my friend who is 40, had a 10 yr marriage, 12 yr relationship, with one person, and got divorced last year. They both hd about 4 months of horrid fighting, now they're basically over it.

30s and under is a god awful time for a divorce

Melis... Melissa042807

We had two guy friends in their late 20's/early 30's get divorced last year (no kids) and yeah, I can definitely say we saw their health being affected in ways I haven't seen with older people going through divorce. One of the guys already has some health challenges and he stopped eating for about a week after his wife left him. It was kind of scary. He started looking gaunt and ghostly, and everyone started saying "Dude, you're freaking us out - EAT." The other guy dropped some weight too and got really pale and quiet. 

For our two friends, we know a big part of it was they felt like total failures at this early stage of life, and that was tough on them. 

MrsCh... MrsChurch

Wow, I would have thought the opposite. Reading the reasons makes sense, but initially I thought it would be harder being older and have such a big chunk of your life established with that person, and for it to be gone...that'd be rough.

Eques... EquestrianMom

Yup, at a younger age I think we place a lot of pressure on ourselves to suceed at our marriages. We may not have a dream job yet, may still be finishing school, just starting our families, but by gosh, we will have a great marriage! At least, until we get divorced, then one of our biggest accomplishments, poof, gone. 

 I went through months of feeling like a failure (despite a beautiful son, a blooming business, a new home, ect) and I got so very depressed. It sucked.

nonmember avatar Amore

I agree with this study. I have a friend who went through a divorce and she turned 21 in the middle of it. She started drinking heavily and it is apparent that she is having issues coping with the divorce. She was with him for 4 years and married for 2. It is hard to be going to college and going through such a life changing event. When a person is young, they are less established and have less experience than a 45 year old who has a career and a little more knowledge about life.

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