People who are having problems in their marriage should not rush straight to divorce, researchers have warned.
A newly published survey of married Americans has found that one in four had thought about divorce sometime in the last six months. But when the same people were asked again a year later, around half of those who admitted they considered divorce in during the first poll had changed their minds about it since.
Academics from the University of Alberta in Canada and Brigham Young University in Utah polled 3,000 people between the ages of 25 and 50 who had been married for at least a year. While some of those who thought about divorce kept it a secret from their spouse, 40 per cent told them about it and 20 per cent “kind of” clued them in.
Study co-author Adam Galovan is a family scientist in the University of Alberta’s Human Ecology department. He said that marriage “has its ebbs and flows” and that “a lot of them just need some time”.
His research team created three categories of people who were thinking about divorce. These were the “soft”, “serious” and “conflicted”. Those in the soft group did not think about the prospect very often, while the serious group did so more frequently. The conflicted people faced much more serious marital problems such as infidelity or a spouse’s drug use.
Surprisingly though, the researchers found that the latter group were the most optimistic about the possibility of saving their marriage. However, they were also the most likely to go through with a divorce.
Galovan explained that the conflicted group was also the most religious. This “might have given a little bit of credence to their hope” he suggested, adding that “maybe they for religious reasons didn’t want to divorce and were hopeful for change”.
Last year, a survey of British divorcees and separated spouses revealed that only 22 per cent of them regretted splitting from their partner.