The Social Effects of Divorce
Social Effects of Divorce
The decision to divorce is a never an easy one and the repercussions are long-term. The decision to separate on a permanent basis has far-reaching consequences.This article discusses some of the social effects of divorce. Social effects refer to effects on an individual's life, relationships, place in society and sense of self.
I will organize these effects into three categories:
- Effects on the individuals
- Effects on the children
- Effects on friends and family
This list is by no means exhaustive but it is an overview of how divorce may affect the individuals separating, the children from the union, and close friends and family members. In some cases, these effects can be either positive or negative, depending on the circumstances and the reasons for the divorce.
Social Effects On The Individual
Effects on Reputation
The person who is divorcing goes from married to single, which has several social repercussions. To examine the social effects of divorce, let's briefly examine what the effects of marriage are, and then how these realities change.
- A couple is a unit of society, identified as a whole, and not just as two individuals. Being known as a couple means that whatever is done between the two of them counts for both of them, even if done by only one of them. This is symbolized by the decision of many couples to adopt the same name, and go by "Mr. and Mrs."
For example, a man may earn an excellent income and the woman may not. They are known by society as "having money," even though she is not directly earning it.
When a divorce occurs, this identification changes, for better or worse. The two must now stand on their own merits.
- As a couple, to say something about one of the couple means that both are directly effected. Their reputation is tied together. This can be good or bad, depending on the circumstances. For example, if a person has been dishonest in business, and gained a bad name, the former spouse will no longer feel that stigma.
Effects on Status
- As well, they both are known to live at a certain address, in a certain neighbourhood. Whatever social status, high or low, is associated with a particular neighborhood, applies to them as a couple. When the break occurs, the two people are no longer associated as "the couple from ..." but rather, their paths go in different directions and they live at a different address. In many cases, the incomes they make separately will be less than their combined assets and their living situation will be downgraded, but there are exceptions, depending on the situation.
- .Finally, as a couple, they are also, by law, joined financially. The government requires that they file taxes together and they can own a house, a car and othe financial assets together. After a divorce, all assets and finances are split. In many cases, the financial situation will be worse off, although there are some notable exceptions, a person in the divorce will come out more well off.
Social Occasions Change
Effects on Social Life
- When two people are married, they often have common affiliations and join groups in common, whether it be a church or a golf club. Sometimes they are given a "couple rate" and will know many of the same people together. When the relationship ends, these affiliations are changed. First of all, they must now be individual members. Because they may no longer wish to see each other, often one or both of the people will end some of the association, in order to avoid an awkward situation. As well, because of address changes, local groups may not be accessible.
- And when they are involved in social interactions, it is often as a couple. They are invited to parities together, sent Christmas cards together and sometimes given presents together. After the divorce, these joint gestures change. For example, a former wife may no longer receive invitations for parties of her former husband's friends. Choices are often made between one partner or the other.
In some cases, this can be seen as a positive thing, if these friends were not particularly close or liked, but merely tolerated.
Changes To Every Day Life
Effects on Personal Life
- On a personal basis, the couple has another person there, in the home. This is regardless of how they get along. If there is another person there, they are seen and there is an opportunity for someone else to contribute to their everyday life. Chores are usually shared and contact is a regular thing. All of the everyday moments in life are no longer shared.
- The isolation from losing this relationship can be a very lonely experience for the persons going through the experience and may lead to depression, addictive behaviour or unwise decisions. There are often feelings of rejection and uncertainty, especially for the partner who did not initiate the separation. If the decision to split was unexpected, the person may also experience confusion and a lack of reality.
- In some cases, if the marriage itself was harmful, the reprieve from contact with the ex-partner may be a relief. If there was philandering, the pain of that will be lessened. If the ex was addictive, the separated partner will no longer be subjected to the destructive behaviour patterns of their husband or wife. And if one of the partners was being abused in any manner, the lack of contact will often allow room for healing and restoration.
Effects on the Children
The social effects on children are perhaps even greater because the parent-child relationship is primary and permanent, lasting the entire life of the child. Even after the divorcing spouses have moved on to new lives, the children's lives have been irrevocably altered. What are the social effects of divorce on children? Here are some of the most important:
- The children don't get to see their parents every day. They only see one of them and they are usually forced to go from one home to another on a regular basis. This often means there is a loss of stability. New routines must be adopted, as the nuclear family is broken up.
- Parent alienation is another possible consequence of a divorce. If the parents communicate negative feelings about the ex-spouse to their child, the child will feel torn and in some cases, be alienated from their mom or their dad.
- Children often lose full time access to their father or less commonly, to their mother. This means that they grow up with less of the influence of the non-custodial parent in their life. For better or for worse, their lives will be more closely aligned with the parent whom they stay with more often.
- Because of the unexpected changes to their lives, children do react in a myriad of ways, including depression, withdrawal, academic problems and anti-social behaviour.
- Both parents both lose their "married" status which means they may start to date and expose their children to another person besides their parent. The children are then forced to deal with that other person in their lives, that is not their parent. This means adjustment on the part of all parities concerned.
- The children must sometimes deal with the "name issue" if their mom decides to go back to her maiden name, or remarry. The child is either forced to change their name, or have a name that is different than their mother.
This list is by no means complete, but it is an overview of some commonly effects of divorce on children. For more information about the long-term effects of divorce on children and partners, you may be interested in a longitudinal study conducted by Judi Wallerstein called The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A Twenty-Five Landmark Study. A more recent study called The Effects of Divorce on Children, was conducted by the Family Research Council, looks at the most recent data and gives the most recent observations.
Relationships with Friends Change
Effects on Friends and Family
- The rest of the family must deal with losing the partner of their child or other relative. In many cases, the son-in-law or daughter-in-law have become a son or daughter to the partner and this loss is devastating. In other cases, the relationship with the in-laws was not good, and it may be seen as a good thing.
- The friends of the couple often feel like they have to choose one or the other of the couple because it is awkward for them to see or associate with persons of the couple. If the relationships with partners are maintained, scheduling changes as they must make separate time for each person of the former couple.
- Friends of the couple lose access to things that they used to enjoy together. For example, if a couple used to go to the cabin with their friends together in the summer, this habit will likely change, and this means a change in the lifestyle of the friends.
- Whenever there are life events happen, care must be taken about invitations, sometimes choices must be made. If both parties are invited to an event, such as a wedding, consideration must be given to how to make the situation least awkward. If there is open animosity, the hosts may feel discomfort at the possibility of an outburst from an aggrieved ex-partner.
More on the Effects of Divorce
- Ten Reasons NOT To Get A Divorce
Ten very good reasons not to divorce, from someone who's been there. If you have a choice, consider the cost before you make this life-changing decision.
© 2012 Sharilee Swaity