How Normal or Healthy is Your Divorce Fantasy?
Fantasizing about divorce is more common than you may think, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is healthy. You can’t control all of your thoughts, but you can control how long you dwell on them. In fact, studies show that the less you think about divorce, the happier you’ll be in your marriage and vice versa. Psychologist Marni Feuerman talks about this important topic here.
Do you ever wonder if it is “normal” to think about getting a divorce? According to a large-scale study by researchers out of the Family Studies Center at Brigham Young University, having such thoughts are relatively “normal.” The study’s overarching goal is to understand, even prevent divorce by exploring the thinking and decision making about divorce. Three thousand married individuals were surveyed as part of the National Divorce Decision-Making Project to understand how people consider the option of divorce.
What sorts of thoughts are people having and what do they do about them? Better yet, what should they do? The study had some interesting findings.
Divorce ideation is not as uncommon as people may realize. In fact, more than half of married survey participants report that they have had thoughts about divorce, either in the past or currently, either spoken or unspoken. And, one in four spouses has recently (within the last six months) thought about divorcing.
“In our culture, it is virtually impossible not to have some thoughts.”
~Dr. Alan Hawkins
The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Alan Hawkins, Professor of Family Life at Brigham Young, has much to say about the key findings. “We wanted to understand how people are thinking about divorce and what mental and emotional process they go through when deciding.” What was most interesting to Dr. Hawkins was that “There’s no question that thoughts about divorce are definitely there and that in our culture it is virtually impossible not to have some thoughts.” In essence, our culture’s high divorce rates are believed to be a contributing factor, making divorce thoughts so common.
The people who considered divorce less frequently also had less severe marital problems such as abuse, addiction, and infidelity. They were also more hopeful about the marriage despite their problems, and they were more willing to work harder to resolve marital problems. A majority, regardless of problem severity, wanted to keep their marriage intact and fix their problems.