Recently, I came across a very interesting study that reported most people who ultimately decided to divorce reported that they were “happy” with their marriages in the five years leading up to their divorces.
Divorce Doesn’t Always Mean Years of Unhappiness
Many of us mistakenly believe that people who ultimately divorce have been unhappy for quite some time before making the decision to divorce. According to this “Washington Post” article written by William J. Doherty and Leah Ward Sears, most divorces happen to couples who are mostly content and could possibly work harder to save their marriages. Should we do more as divorce lawyers to encourage our clients to use their waiting periods before filing for divorce to work harder on reconciliation? The article further states that in most non-abusive marriages, the decision to divorce has the greatest potential to harm the children involved.
You are Responsible for Your Marital Bliss
We are a society that wants things immediately. We want instant gratification, and we want the feelings that bring us discomfort to end as quickly as possible. We blame others for our unhappiness, and we mistakenly believe that our partners are responsible for our happiness or unhappiness.
The Importance of Divorce Waiting Periods
Although most states implement a mandatory waiting period before allowing
couples to divorce, the waiting periods are not extensive. In fact, most
states impose a waiting period of six months or less. Virginia’s
one-year waiting period should become the model for other states. In Virginia, you need
to wait at least a year before you can ask for a final divorce, unless you have no children and have a property settlement agreement. In this case, you only need to remain separate and apart from your spouse for six months.
Consider ReconciliationDuring the One-Year Waiting Period in Virginia
However, although the one-year waiting period in Virginia serves as a “cooling-off” period where spouses have time to seriously consider whether or not they want to divorce, as family law attorneys, we can do more to help our clients seriously consider reconciliation as an option. Virginia family law attorneys can help their clients consider reconciliation as a serious option by recommending couples’ therapy. In contrast to “divorce therapy,” couples’ therapists help couples look at fixing their marriages, instead of looking at divorce as the ultimate solution.
Divorced, Still Depressed and Even Unhappier
Many studies, including the study by the University of Chicago’s
Linda Waite, lead us to conclude that most divorced individuals reported being
unhappy even after they divorced. In Waite’s “Does Divorce Make People Happy?” study, subjects
reported that divorcing did not help them find happiness. Divorced spouses drank more than their married counterparts did, and they reported lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of depression.
Unhappy Couples Can Find Happiness in Working on Their Marriages
What’s even more astounding and surprising is that these researchers
found that most couples who reported being “very unhappy”
at the time of their study reported being “very happy” five years
later after staying married. Couples who work through their problems, instead of resorting to divorce, may build stronger marriages by developing their communication skills and learning to live harmoniously with one another.
Shameless Self-Promotion: If you’re looking for a Virginia family law attorney, contact Keithley Law, PLLC.
Call Keithley Law, PLLC, PLLC today at (703) 454-5147 for a case evaluation.
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