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How Does a Divorce Affect and Damage the Family?

How Does Divorce Affect the Family
Divorce is not just a decision that only affects the marriage of two people, but, it also has a strong impact on their family. Let's understand the after-math of a divorce on the family members.
Reshma Jirage
Last Updated: Mar 2, 2018
Babies are hard work
Till divorce do us part...

Sealed by a kiss and a pair of eternity rings, most of us believe that "marriages are made in heaven". But, when it comes to facing a real marriage, how many people really give it their heart and soul to be together? The beginning of a married life is magical with many hopes and wishes. But as the time passes by, often couples feel the pressure of making compromises for each other. They start noticing the differences between them which earlier seemed 'cute', they become irritating and suddenly make them 'incompatible'.
Soon, small arguments turn to big conflicts. When these become a routine affair until they are no longer tolerable, the couple takes the big step of ending the marriage. It is called a divorce, the legal termination of a marriage between a husband and wife. Marriages are not for the faint of heart. If there were no legal constraints, people would probably walk out of their marriages as easily as they would out of a clothes store, the collection of which didn't excite them enough to make a purchase.
But why do marriages fail? The unhappiness in a couple's married life may have developed due to behavioral or attitudinal problems; say one of the partners is aggressive, a workaholic, adulterer, has an alcohol or drug addiction or has been inflicting physical or emotional abuse on the family. Any of these situations can create a lot of stress in the marriage as well the people affected by it. Ultimately, divorces are an emotionally painful experience for all those involved, especially children.
Effects of Divorce on the Family
A divorce comes with stress. It is legally documenting that two people failed to save their marriage and drifted apart. What if children are involved in that mix? If your parents are distressed by the decision that you have decided to leave your spouse, they may be able to handle it having had strong life experiences. But, what about the little ones who are told that mummy and daddy are breaking up when they haven't even truly experienced the world. Well, in all honesty, marriages should have never come with the clause "If you act nasty, I will leave you." Yet, for some, divorce often proves to be an escape from hell.
While a divorce is painful, it may just bring an end to a broken marriage that is beyond repair and end the suffering of everyone around. If a couple is seeking divorce, then it wouldn't be wrong to presume that they were having problems for a long time and there may have been bouts of extremely ugly and bitter quarrels between the spouses. Instead of running around in circles, a divorce may come as a boon in bane.
According to a psychological assessment of the children of divorced parents, most subjects stated that although it had been extremely agonizing, the divorce only made them emotionally stronger once they got out of the trauma. They gained a fair and deeper perspective on the life-changing event. These children also became independent and mature at quite an early age with respect to their counterparts belonging to two-parent families.
In adulthood, a significant part of them enjoyed well-established careers and cited being more sensitive towards their relationships, especially the intimate ones. Since they lacked stability in their childhood, they tried to make up for it by building a strong financial and social network, becoming self-reliant in the process. However, while being more common amongst girls as compared to boys, this was true only for a small percentage (debatable between researchers).
A pre-divorce house is like a battle ground awaiting for the war to begin, creating a hostile environment at home. Until a divorce is finalized and even thereafter, the spouses get entangled in clashes over the division of valuables and everything else owned or a part of the family which is witnessed and suffered by their children. There goes their childhood downhill. Add to that, it builds a foundation for a society of brittle relationships created by self-sabotaging individuals.
After a divorce, family relationships are never normal. There is a lot of emotional disturbance to every member affected by it. It takes a really long time to truly get over the trauma and confusion about love, life and relationships. The animosity of the past often spills over to the future romantic liaisons of the man and wife as well as their children. One or both partners may face emotional, psychological and financial troubles. The failure of their marriage can often make them feel lonely and rejected.
The divorce affects the housing arrangements, health and economic status. In an equation wherein children are involved, custody battles may ensue. Again, a legal settlement may be mutually consented upon but the children stand to miss be deprived of their right to have a happy and emotionally healthy family relationships. A child needs both the parents equally. Parental love and support is a key to the healthy physical and mental development of a child. When a single parent has to play the role of both and fulfill the responsibilities of each while juggling a job simultaneously, it is impossible to do so in the long term as either the career or the parenting will take a back seat.
Separation from either of the parents may breed a psychological muddle of issues like insecurity due to abandonment, instability and uncertainty of the future causing extreme mood swings, depression, resentment, suicidal tendencies, promiscuity, substance abuse, inability to trust and/or a lack of ambition in later life.
After a divorce, occasions of merry-making such as birthdays, Christmases and Thanksgivings are never the same with their paternal and maternal extended families that never get together to celebrate again. In a post-divorce scenario, many children are at the risk of losing their emotional bond and becoming estranged from their relatives, neighbors and friends.
For teens, the social stigma of a broken family may subject them to the antagonism of their peers at school or worse, they may be pitied which can further add insult to injury. Behavioral problems such as impulsiveness and aggressiveness are common traits amongst the children of divorced couples. The academic performance of the children also suffers. Since every divorce comes at a price, literally, financial difficulties may prompt them to drop out and gain no education.
Adults are the role models for the younger ones. A divorce in the family leaves them no choice but to accept it. A divorce affects children and other family members as well. Those in the immediate and extended family may often come to see it as the right decision which is dangerous to the society as it is likely to create acceptance and imitation of the behavior. They may see divorce in a different light as an easier escape from troubled marriages. Such a psychology is unhealthy for their relationships as well. However, a couple's circumstances after a divorce play a major role in their perception of the rightfulness of their decision.
There are two sides to a coin. The ability of a family to cope with the divorce is a deciding factor on the effect of divorce on them - whether positive or negative. Hence, it is the parents' responsibility to support their children and handle this situation with patience and diplomacy. Once a couple has chosen to separate, the children must be given enough time and support to come to terms with the reality.
If you're considering a divorce, be honest with your children and help them understand your side as well. Be real and factual, but, keep a positive undertone in your discussion. Make them aware about the reasons behind the divorce. You may have given a long thought and come up with your own justifiable reasons before opting for a divorce so I wouldn't ask you to reconsider your decision.
What is really important is that you spend more time with the kids to help them find an outlet to express their feelings. It will reduce their grief period so, they don't end up withdrawing and feeling isolated. Give constant emotional and financial support to your children so that they would be ready to accept the changes.