Hollywood stars marry and divorce quicker than rabbits procreate. The newest trend in Hollywood divorce is a re-characterization of divorce as something sweet and pleasant. When Gwyneth Paltrow announced her divorce it was a “conscious uncoupling.” On July 2, 2014, Jewel announced her divorce as a “tender undoing.” Can this re-characterization help or is divorce ugly no matter how gentle it is described?
Divorce is one of the most stressful times anyone can go through. Much of the stress we bring on ourselves in how we anticipate how others will deal with the news when they are told of divorce. When Jane Buckingham wrote an article in the Huffington Post about Paltrow’s divorce, she writes about this telling as one of the hardest parts of divorce. She’s surprised that in this day and age, with so much divorce, that society hasn’t eliminated the stigma from divorce.
I am glad there is still a stigma about divorce. The reality is that divorce is painful. Divorce should be avoided anytime it can. When society removes the stigma on divorce, the divorce rate will skyrocket even more.
After 6 years of marriage singer/songwriter Jewel is divorcing. Their son, Kase, is 3 years old. CNN reposted much of Jewel’s blog post making it sound loving and sweet. I think it’s great they are at least putting up a front that it is not bitter or full of anger. Many can learn from this. Divorce, however, has painful consequences and everyone must remember this regardless how sweet it sounds now. There is a young child involved and the impact of divorce on young children cannot be denied.
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Impact of Divorce on Children
There is ample research on the effects of divorce on the adults as well as children. Consider these results from the study reported in Physician, October 1997. “Divorce: The Forgotten Trauma” by Melissa Cox & Michelle Burford.
- Trauma of Parental Rejection
After divorce most children live with their moms. Nearly half of these have not seen their dad in the past year and 23% haven’t seen their dad in the last 5 years. Only 37% have spent more than one day a month with their dad, leading to feelings of parental rejection, depression, low self-esteem and acting out.
- Substance Abuse
Divorce increases the likelihood of both alcohol and drug abuse, especially in children whose parents divorced while they were teens.
- High Teen Suicide Rates
Parental divorce is one of the strongest predictors of suicide, now the second leading cause of death among teens.
- Crime and Delinquency
Children with single, never married moms have the highest crime rates. The children from divorced homes rank a close second. A Wisconsin study found that 87% of delinquents in correctional facilities came from single parent families.
- Future Divorce
White females are 60% more likely to divorce later themselves and males are 32% more likely if their own parents divorced. Children who experience the death of a parent do not appear to suffer as adverse consequences as those whose families are torn apart by divorce.
Divorce Hurts Regardless What it is Called
I’m sure we will hear of many more Hollywood stars getting divorced. That pattern is not likely to decrease. What I hope will decrease, but doubt, is this new trend in re-characterizing divorce as something less painful. It is painful for both adults and children. This website documents plenty of evidence.
Use the Family Dinner as a Tool to Avoid Divorce
The family dinner is a great place to build a happy marriage. When done properly, the couple will fall more in love and not even think about divorce. During a family meal defenses are usually down. People tend to talk more freely. It’s perfectly OK to have serious discussions while children are at the table, provided the discussions are age appropriate. When in the habit of having discussions at the dinner table, the table becomes more than just a place to eat. The key is for everyone to keep their cool and not get angry. A good set of family dinner rules helps tremendously.
The tip for today comes from John Gottman, PhD, the preeminent researcher on marriage. Think about how these ideas can be implemented during a family meal. In his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, one of the principles is to enhance your “love map.” He calls the love map the information we should know about our partner. Often when thoughts of divorce enter a relationship it is because communication breaks down and the partners feel separate, lonely and isolated. Thoughts that the partner doesn’t know them anymore surface. Fix it by enhancing your love map.
Here are a few common love map questions you should know about your partner. There are plenty more in the book which I highly recommend.
- What is coming up that your spouse is excited about?
- What is coming up that your spouse is fearful of?
- What is the favorite sports team of your spouse?
- Who does your spouse admire?
- Where was your spouse born?
- What is an unrealized dream of your spouse?
- Who is the greatest source of support, other than you, for your spouse?
Knowing the answers to these questions will open up opportunities for you to communicate with and show additional support for your spouse. There are many ways knowing this information can be turned into small gifts, acts of service, kind words, or simply empathizing with your spouse. Showing love and communication in this manner takes just a little time each day. It’s an easy way to stay happily married. #CookTalkLove